Blank Page No.3

Welcome to Hannah in the UK and Will in Canada’s Blank Page. They’re both stalwarts of the WHYS blog so they need no introduction. All yours…

126 Responses to “Blank Page No.3”

  1. 1 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 20:17

    I know! Let’s discuss this psycho! Anyone heard of this story?


  2. 2 hannah21g
    April 18, 2008 at 20:33

    Thanks Ros and the WHYS team for letting Will and I take over the blog! It’s really really exciting 😀

    Will and I discussed a few topics that people might like to discuss this weekend. Thanks to Xie-Ming for being really quick off the mark and adding ideas. Since there might be a few arguments happening at the same time, if people wouldn’t mind either starting their post with an @ Q…. or @brett @lubna @will etc that would be really helpful.

    Right then topics :

    The British press has been discussing the recent death of two soldiers in Afganistan, one of whom Gary Thompson is our countries oldest frontline casuality of recent conflicts. This article stresses his reasons for re-joining the forces, and why he wanted to take part in the conflict.

    Will and I were wondering what makes a freedom fighter? Does that person have to be fighting for the ‘freedoms’ of that society, or is he fighting for his own perception of freedom?

    A common phrase in the uk is “one man’s freedom fighter is another mans terrorist” . Would this soldier be considered a terrorist owing to his ideal of freedom? What is a terrorist?

    Another news story which caught my eye was the banning of the Simpsons in Venezuela, for over a week since it was deemed inappropriate for children.

    Amusingly it was replaced by baywatch which was considered more appropriate. There is also a wombles video released to widespread press in the uk this week since they had been dubbed with American accents. It was complaining about how only 1% of the television that children see in the uk is made in the uk.

    Will thought these were good examples for the questions
    What influence is there in how we are portrayed in the world at large and how do we see ourselves. What frustrations do we have that the world doesn’t see us as we see ourselves?

    I thought we could also add how do we want our children to see other cultures? My interpretation of American teens is based on MTV? Is the TV output we produce a realistic representation of our societies? I would love it if there was anyone from Japan to comment on Animai

    Finally Xie_Ming wanted to know
    Whether topics concerning physical appearance, etc., are pandering to a lowest common denominator and a waste of potential brainpower by WHYS?

    Should WHYS have occasionaly frivilous topics? Could WHYS pull an april fools day joke without loosing its credibility? Can it discuss topics like Kylie’s recent statement about how she doesnt think she will find a man, without letting down its audience.

    Well i thought that would start us off nicely 😀

    Ros doesn’t believe we shall reach over 100 posts this weekend… shall we aim for 150 just to give him and WHYS a nice pressie 😀

  3. 3 Will Rhodes
    April 18, 2008 at 20:41

    Hello everyone – if you want to follow the debates I will be around late so will be approving or un-approving messages on the fly.

    Hannah and I want to keep things as lively as possible so please add your 2 cents worth.

    I think everyone is well aware of the blog so with all that said, let’s have a good weekend.

  4. 4 Xie_Ming
    April 18, 2008 at 20:46

    Here are some topics that the audience, rather than the “moderators”, might wish to consider:


    (1) Bias and censorship in media. Examples taken from the past week.

    (2) Definition of terrorism. Problems of definition. Disingenuous use of the term. Examples. References.

    (3) Policy toward Iran. What should it be?

    (4) Policy toward Hamas. What should it be?

    (5) Whether topics concerning physical appearance, etc., are pandering to a lowest common denominator and a waste of potential brainpower by WHYS?

    (6) What is “legalism” and how has it been manifested in the current US administration? Examples of Wolfowitz and of Guantanamo legislation.

    (7) What is the discussion tactic of “poisoning the wells” and is it natural or a subcultural characteristic?

    (8) The UN vs. the nation-state. Should aspects of national sovereignty gradually be surrendered to a UN-type organization?

    (9) Is it our food or the World’s food? How much of a family is the “family of man”?

    (10) What percentage of people are tolerant and what percentage are obedient authoritarians?

  5. 5 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 21:03


    Good news for accountability! Why on earth should someone who unilaterally ends a marriage be financially rewarded?

  6. April 18, 2008 at 21:23

    Hi to my two precious friends Hannah and Will. I’m really feeling soooooo excited about this weekend, and Inshallah Blank Page NO.3 is gonna be just perfect. Well, I do have some questions that I’d love to share with the rest of you guys : Are we (especially those of you guys in the West 🙂 too depandent on modern technology for making our daily lives going on ?! Or how about this : Can you ever live without your mobile phone ?! If yes, then for how long ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  7. 7 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 03:19

    3) Policy toward Iran. What should it be?


    After you have had your morning coffee, tell us what you think Iraq’s policy toward Iran should be.

    Try to get some friends to discuss it on-line, too.

  8. 8 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 03:29

    “Will and I were wondering what makes a freedom fighter? Does that person have to be fighting for the ‘freedoms’ of that society, or is he fighting for his own perception of freedom”


    Several different motivations:

    a) influence of group or community
    b) way to get food or money
    c) concepts of “honor”, “dignity”, revenge and “justice”
    d) an answer to present misery
    e) ideology, idealism
    f) identification and/or identity

    Note that “freedom” may not mean what you think- for example Hegel saw “concrete freedom” realized in total obedience to the state.

  9. 9 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 03:39

    “I thought we could also add how do we want our children to see other cultures?”

    The usual child is most influenced by the attitudes of
    (1) his peer group
    (2) the indoctrination of school, society and church
    (3) his family

    An authoritarian parent will denigrate cultures that are different and elevate a fearful, doctrinaire and intolerant authoritarian/totalitarian (as are 85% of mankind).

    So, for posters:
    “how do you want your child to view other cultures?”

  10. 10 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 03:58

    Hanna asks “what is a terrorist”- one who practices terrorism!

    Here are a few views:

    The motive for the action, the target of the action, the means employed, whether the action is international or indigenous and who does it are all criteria to be considered. Government policy strongly influences the definition of terrorism. Our friends are “legitimate governments” and “freedom fighters”- the others are “dictator/tyrants” and “terrorists”.

    Propaganda, colonialism and drugs are considered terrorism. The 1987 Islamic Summit in Geneva sought to define terrorism as the use of weapons to intimidate the general public. They considered colonialism and the narcotics trade as inhuman acts with a corrupt purpose creating insecurity and thus as forms of terrorism.

    “Pollution of information” they thought potentially one of the most dangerous forms
    (http://al-islam.org/ al-tawhid/definition-terrorism.htm).

    Aerial bombing is terrorism. Bombs dropped from airplanes often destroy innocent families in their homes, so such “collateral damage” can be thought to be inhuman and terrorist. Those ordering such bombing may claim that the primary objective or intention, in distinction to the act of a terrorist, was not to harm innocents. Such “collateral damage” may be hundreds of times greater than the willful acts of terrorists.

    Comment? Want more?

  11. 11 steve
    April 19, 2008 at 04:14

    Funny Xie_Ming, you’d think just about everything is terrorism except strapping a bomb to yourself and walking into a restaurant with the intention of killing civilians.

  12. 12 viola anderson
    April 19, 2008 at 07:45

    I believe terrorism can be defined as a form of unconventional warfare practiced by wannabe armies that use violence against non-combatants to achieve their aims of victory over those they consider their enemies, using improvised weapons or weapons of chance. One weakness of the technique is that eventually they have to face a conventional army or resign themselves to killing non-combatants forever. Another weakness is the danger of not frightening the population they wish to intimidate, but angering them and thereby strengthening their opponents’ resolve. It is commonly practiced against a power greater than themselves. It can be likened to the image of a small dog attacking a larger, younger, more powerful dog. Real exciting but not likely to end in victory for the smaller dog.

    “Pollution of information” is not a form of terrorism; it is propaganda. Propaganda is used by terrorists but not solely by terrorists.

    There have been aerial bombings of civilian populations in past wars done with the aim of terrorizing a population into submission. I suspect that if such bombings fail to impress the opposing military forces, that it works no better than suicide bombing does. I also believe that military strategists have viewed the results obtained by such bombings in the past and found that for the most part, it is much more effective to concentrate on strategic military targets. Of course, a munitions factory employing civilians is a legitimate target as are transportation networks and other targets as well.

    I guess selling foods containing trans-fats in them is a form of terrorism since it is sold with full knowledge of the harm it does. And selling oil to any country with an army is a form of terrorism since the oil is necessary to power the machines of war. Not selling the oil can also be considered terrorism since the oil is necessary to run the farm machinery which allows a country to feed its own people and, often, people in other nations.

    I suggest that we not get too far afield in the effort to define terrorism.

    Terrorism can be viewed as a tactic of the weak that is ALWAYS horrific because deliberate, unlike the tactics of conventional militaries which may or may not be horrific because non-combatants are not usually viewed as legitimate targets and, thus, not targeted. Non-combatant casualties incurred by conventional militaries can reasonably be considered accidents which happened despite efforts to avoid them, not because they were targeted which is always the case in suicide bombings launched by terrorists.

    If the weak dog insists on attacking the alpha dog of the pack, it does so with a perfect understanding of what it is doing. When it is defeated, it does not attempt to justify its attack by claiming some kind of moral high ground. It simply rolls over on its back and protects its throat if it wants to live. It does not attack the females of the pack or the puppies or the old, formerly alpha male. Its business is with the alpha male and it knows it will never become the alpha male any other way than by fighting any but the alpha dog. Dogs are far more honest than are human beings. They never lie and they always know what they are doing.

    I’m not advocating wolf pack behavior in human beings, but I do advocate more honesty.

  13. 13 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 12:21

    Not funny at all. The concept of terrorism is to spread terror among the civilian population in order to effect political control.

    Do you recall the goal of “shock and awe” proclaimed by the American Secretary of Defense before beginning the air bombardment of Baghdad?

    Two thousand years ago, The Sicarii fanatics among the Jewish population wanted to resist the Roman occupation, so they would assassinate fellow Jews who did not resist the government.
    These Zealots eventually holed up at Masada and forced everyone to commit suicide- a full scale Jonestown!

    The Americans and the Sicarii had the same goal- to create terror among the civilian population in order to effect political control.

    On the other hand, those who do suicide bombings are mostly motivated by revenge for the killing and humilation of relatives. The Israelis continually study the motivations of suicide bombers. We can go into this at greater length if anyone is interested.

    As one Israeli cabinet member explained of Palestinians: “we want to sear into their consciousness that they are a defeated people”.
    Even the Talmud specifies that gentiles are to be tolerated in Greater Israel “only as daily humiliated servants and slaves”.

    The policy today is to break the spirit of the people and drive them out, allowing some to remain temporarily if useful for economic exploitation. This is state terrorism, executed according to a religious and ethnic ideology.
    This is state terrorism, executed as a matter

  14. April 19, 2008 at 13:39

    Hi lovely Hannah and good Will. And hi good Xie-Ming. Let’s hope both Zainab and Rania in Baghdad will respond soon to your question Inshallah. As for me, I do believe that ALL Iraq’s neighbouring countries must give trustworth evidences that they’re not playing a negative and inflammatory role in my Iraq and that they’re not provoking unrest and instability there. Now I’m really so eager to hear your opinions guys about this story which I heard yesterday on the BBC Arabic Service : SOME Iraqi refugee families in Syria are forcing their girls (some of them are as young as 13 years old) to practice PROSTITUTION so that the family will get some money enough to only buy something to eat for the day ahead !!! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  15. 15 Will Rhodes
    April 19, 2008 at 13:55

    I hope this doesn’t fall into a debate about how Israel is as much a terrorist organisation as some of the more known terrorist organisations. That is just walking around the same tree again and again ad infinitum.

    This is the definition of ‘Terrorist’ and Freedom Fighter (short form):

    One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism.

    An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result.

    a person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions)

    Looking at those short definition of what they mean – how does that compare to what you view as the correct definition? In what circumstances could you see yourself as a freedom fighter?

  16. 16 Will Rhodes
    April 19, 2008 at 14:04

    Hannah – the banning of The Simpsons and then allowing Baywatch is, in my eyes rather silly, but Baywatch is that bad, cheesy TV, yes, bad acting? Yes! But all in all not that bad – and no I didn’t watch it much a couple of episodes at most.

    But, after living in England for so long and then moving here to Canada the difference in the TV programming is beyond daft!

    In the UK certain films and scenes have to be viewed after the watershed 9.00PM, they are regarded as adult so kids shouldn’t watch them. In North America it is really skewed – you can watch all sorts of films all day, yet all the expletives have been removed. This is the same late at night, yet – one word can be allowed that if said directly to a person in the UK would mean someone getting hurt. The B word.

    I don’t know about countries in the Mid and far east, but sometimes things just don’t seem to be really thought out.

  17. 17 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 14:06

    Since serious and informed people have studied terrorism, it is not likely to be benefit us to postulate imaginary analogies concerning small dogs or alpha bitches eating the puppies of others. To do so would be to potentiate the arrogance of ignorance.

    It has been noted that terrorism is only politically successful when performed in conjunction with a regular, organized political movement.

    A century ago, Anarchists were blowing themselves and others up in public places. The police handled the matter.

    What aspects of terrorism are of interest?

  18. April 19, 2008 at 14:38

    Does a person have to be violent to be a freedom fighter?

    The term is generally associated with conflicts, Could the Tibet protests which we have discussed this last week be considerd freedom fighter?

    With regards to television I have a quick question, Baywatch was an international phenomena back in the 90’s, yet surely the large scale nudity in the programme made it unpalatable to islamic countries? Are there any islamic countries today which show Baywatch

    “The concept of terrorism is to spread terror among the civilian population in order to effect political control”
    Surely this definition could also apply to freedom fighters? Soldiers tackle conflict to bring about political change which appeals more to their idea of freedom.


  19. 19 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 14:42

    Following the matter of definition of terrorism:

    “Some think that state terrorism may include torture, death squads, disappearances and concentration camps. Specious attempts may claim (see the U. S. Code) that states cannot commit terrorism themselves, but can sponsor non-governmental international terrorism. In reality, state sponsored terrorism is usually clandestine, except when the objective is to terrorize the home population.

    The lack of affect, of general human empathy, is thought to be a characteristic of some Western urban societies. The remoteness brought about by television and aerial views allows those who cause or foster the harm to become psychologically numb to their human responsibility. They consider themselves as observers or technicians rather than as terrorists.” (“Ideology’s Handbook”, Athabascan Academic 2005 pg. 330).

    The contortions of the US Code are, perhaps deliberately, hard to follow, but they are amended to accommodate national policy. This definition takes Israel and its assassins, as a practitioner of state terrorism, out of the definition, but puts in governments who use non-governmental employees for the same purpose. (Perhaps we can look at “legalism” in greater depth sometime.)

    The comment concerning lack of affect fits in with an earlier thread about sociopathy. Americans sat on their couches and watched, in color, “shock and awe” being effected on Baghdad. From ten thousand feet, the release of bombs is technical, rather than personal. Are they also terrorists?

  20. 20 Count Iblis
    April 19, 2008 at 14:52

    About terrorism, we should distinguish between acts of terror and terrorist organizations. Also, terrorism in its modern meaning is not the same anymore as literally “causing terror” in the meaning of “causing fear”.

    An act of terror can best be defined as an act of violence targeting civilians which is outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.

    A terrorist organization should be defined as an organization whose main aim is to commit acts of terror in order to achieve their aims.

    E.g. Hamas is then not a terrorist organization, because their main aim is not to use terrorism to liberate Palestine. The fact that Hamas commits acts of terror from time to time does not make it a terrorist organization. Similarly, US soldiers have been convicted of using violence against covilians. One could call this terrorism. But that doesn’t mean that the US army is a terrorist institution.

    Al Qa’ida, on the other hand, is a terrorist organization, because their main aim is to achieve their aims via the use of violence against civilians. If you take away the “use of violence” part here , you don’t have Al Qaida anymore. In case of Hamas, that isn’t the case. Hamas can say that hey’ll agree to an indefinite cease fire and continue to go about their business.

    Most other definitions suffer from problems. If Steve were to give his definition, then that would have to be supplemented by consulting a list of groups that the US or Israel considers to be terrorist groups. So, you end up having to decide on an ad hoc basis that e.g. Israel is not a terrorist country, because, well, they are our allies. Iran is a terrorist country, because, well, they not friendly to us.

    Another example: France secret agents blew up the GreenPeace ship Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand killing one civilian. If Iran had done that then that would have been cinsidered to be an act of State Terrorism.

    So, my definition allows one to say that this specific act was an act of terror. The French secret service is not a terrorist institution because despite what they did in New Zealand, their main aim is not to use violence against civilians for France’s benefit.

  21. 21 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 14:53


    Tibet is probably a fine example of the use of the term “freedom fighter”.

    We have Yueh-chih descended (from 150 BC) Chinese attacking Han Chinese and burning their shops. The government steps in to quell the rioting.

    Were they “rioters” or “freedom fighters”. When blacks were burning Washington and Los Angeles, were they rioters or freedom fighters?

    Are the Chechens “freedom fighters” or “terrorists”?

    Does it all depend on which Propaganda Ministry one listens to?

    My suggestion is that mental alarm bells should ring when one sees the words “freedom fighters”!!

  22. 22 steve
    April 19, 2008 at 15:06

    @ Will

    you’ll like this, a man was convicted for “staring” at a woman.


  23. April 19, 2008 at 15:23

    Hey lovely Hannah. Well, I bet you and the rest of the World Have Your Sayers who are based in the West are all gonna be surprised to see the content of what is being shown regularly on TV in the Arab World :-). Sexual scenes and almost naked females are a regular feature of most Arab movies and songs being shown daily on most Arab Satellite channels. How sick and disgusting ! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  24. 24 Zainab
    April 19, 2008 at 16:08

    Hello how are you all?
    how are you dear Lubna? thank you so much for inviting me to this discussion. first of all it’s been sometimes since last i’ve been in the WHYS blog becuase i live in Sadr City and the electricity as well as the whole situation is in a complete mess. So that wouldn’t be able to open my pc.
    About Iraq’s policy toward Iran (and all our neighboring countries) i think it should be as Iraq’s policy toward the world’s countries, that is, with no interfere in the interior or exterior affairs.
    Iran is ruling us right now, almost all those who came (with the Americans) to be the leaders of Iraq, are in one sense or another IRANIANS. well i wonder how is that Iran is America’s number one enemy (as someone eleswhere has said)and president Bush brought them to us and let them ,under many different names, to be the ruling power of Iraq. Well it seems that WE (IRAQIS) are more than an enemy to American, to put us at the hand of it’s “number one enemy.”
    Iran is interfering in our policy, it’s true. But at least there is a one positive point in the Iranian side that they admit the legitimacy of Iraqi government and that support Iraq. The Question here is what are the Arab countries doing???

  25. 25 viola anderson
    April 19, 2008 at 16:18

    Xie Ming, not wishing to attack you, but to ask where is your objectivity on the subject of Israel,Palestine, and the Middle East? Have you taken a “yes” position in a debate that could be called “Are the real bad guys those who support Israel’s right to exist “?

    Analogies work pretty well unless you carry them too far. In case you missed it, my point was the importance of not demonizing or hero-worshiping one side or the other, but to understand the reality of what is happening. Rudyard Kipling said it pretty well: “Oh, East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great judgment Seat, But there is neither East nor West , Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face tho’ they come from the ends of the Earth!

  26. 26 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 16:30

    Israel is a legitimate terrorist organization. Terrorists who win become known as freedom fighters.

    It is as simple and as complicated as that. As long as we think in terms of good guys and bad guys and winers and losers nothing will change.

    Jimmy Carter is the freedom fighter of the moment. His life must be in danger.

    Has this been on the news?


  27. 27 Katharina in Ghent
    April 19, 2008 at 16:40

    Hi girls and guys,

    I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but the fact that since 9am this morning, when I first looked into this blog, only 18 comments have been posted, out of which 7 by Xie-Ming and 3 by Steven (I don’t count Hannah and Will, they are in charge, after all), does not leave me exactly enthusiastic. Last weekend this blog was stuck in the discussion about Iraq – a very sincere topic, very important, but there is more to life and I’m sure Lubna will agree, and this week all we can come up with is “what makes someone a terrorist??? If we want this blog to take off then we need to discuss more than just the grimmest of topics!!!

    Here’s my suggestion: why don’t we also discuss something that is a little bit more fun and where more people might attach to: one idea that I have is where do people in different countries go on summer vacation – and where would they never go and why. Here’s my entry for this: I would love to go this summer somewhere south to escape the Belgian “summer” (a real oxymoron, if we get two weeks of nice weather we will suffer a sun stroke), but for the moment I would never dare to go as far south as Tunesia or Morocco because I would always be afraid of the bad things that might happen there. (Oh no, now we’re back at the terrorists!!! Forget what I said, it’s because it’s too hot there!)

    OK, so what about your summer vacations, if you have any?

  28. 28 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 17:12

    Will says: [I hope this doesn’t fall into a debate about how Israel is as much a terrorist organization as some of the more known terrorist organizations. That is just walking around the same tree again and again ad infinitum.]

    How do people view Will’s comments? With Will as moderator, do you feel you don’t want to hurt his feelings by commenting about Israel? I had already posted a comment about Israel before I saw his words.

    I wonder if I would have said what I said if I had read his comments first. Do we consider ourselves a group and therefore would protect the group rather than say what we feel? Would liking Will have a bearing on our feelings?

    What sorts of things give us the feeling of being muzzled, here and in society?

  29. 29 VictorK
    April 19, 2008 at 17:43

    A suggestion: could the blank page begin canvassing ideas earlier in the week, like Wednesday? Then by Friday the hosts could have decided what topics they want to see discussed over the weekend and the weekend could be devoted mainly or entirely to discussion?

    A definition of terrorism that condemns the people one dislikes but exempts as ‘freedom fighters’ the people one supports is disingenuous. A definition of terrorism that just happens to identify Israel and the US as practitioners of state terrorism and nobody else is clearly an interested one. Neither country engages in terrorist activity habitually, or perpetrates acts that are mainly intended to cause terror amongst civilians. Even Iraqis – who know a thing about terror – don’t attempt to make such an absurd charge against the US; and if occasional actions of Israel constitute terrorism then that country can be classed alongside just about every other government in the Middle East and North Africa as ‘terrorist,’ all of whom used intimidation and terror to drive out their established Jewish populations when Israel was founded, and most of whom use strong-arm tactics to keep in check civilian opposition.

    Besides, there are circumstances in which terrorism may be a legitimate tactic (e.g. against an occupying army and its civilian infrastructure), or some case of collective punishments (as practised by Israel) intended to deter further violence. The Taliban – whom I loathe – use terrorist tactics; but I’m not sure how it can be argued that they aren’t entitled to. There is also the consideration – building on a point made by Viola – that terrorism is most effective when used against a civilised country. A semi-civilised or barbarous regime will simply respond with an onslaught that will sweep the terrorists away. So, the Stern and Irgun gangs could deploy terror tactics against the British in Palestine in a way that many of their members would never have dared to against the Nazis in Poland or Germany. The Russians faced a terrorist threat in Chechnya (one of the cases where, in my view, terror was fully justified, and the Chechens were ‘freedom fighting terrorists’). The Russians have often been described as semi-civilised and their response to the Chechen terrorists showed why. Utter brutality, complete ruthlessness, mass murder, the demolition of the Chechn capital, Grozny (all, curiously, against a backdrop of complete silence in the rest of the Muslim world). The Chechens have since been subdued. Saddam Hussein did not have a terrorist problem; George Bush does.

    More important than defining who is and who isn’t a terrorist is knowing when terrorist tactics are acceptable or even justified. Terrorists who represent the bulk of their people, who operate on their own soil, and who are facing a foreign occupier are justified. The Iraqi insurgency meets this definition, even though I regard the US and its Coalition partners as ‘the good guys’ in that conflict. The Tibetans would be entitled to use terror tactics to liberate their country from foreign occupation. Other situations are much more doubtful, and most terrorist episodes and movements are wholly unjustified (9/11, the IRA, ETA, the armed lunatics of the FARC, the Lord’s Resistance Army – another insane group – the Algerian Islamists, the Islamist terrorists operating in Western Europe, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, etc.

  30. 30 Will Rhodes
    April 19, 2008 at 18:37

    @Selena – you won’t be hurting my feelings at all – I just didn’t want the debate to fall into an Israel/anti-Israel debate – again. But if that is where you want to go with this then it is not up to me to stop it, rather than just moderate, which I will do to the best of my ability.

    I hoped that people would look at the wider picture rather than one aspect of it.

    I do hope that you won’t, or don’t, feel that you have been ‘muzzled’ in any way at all.

  31. 31 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 19:08


    I fully intend to pursue controversial subjects. You are entitled to talk about vacations and diets, if you wish.

    In case it was too complicated:
    The US Congress has rigged the law so that:

    (1) If you are a government employee doing an assassination (e.g. Israel’s MOSSAD) you are NOT a terrorist.

    (2) If you are a Mafia hit man paid by government contract, then you ARE a terrorist.

    If this does not seem reasonable, then see the BBC Americas website wherein the Mersheimer and Walt study of the Israeli influence on US politics is examined.

    If we want to talk about examples of legalism, or of the United Nations vs the nation-state, consider the fact that the United States government refused to recognize the International Court of Justice and passed a law authorizing military intervention to “rescue” any US offical taken into custody by the International Court.

    Would anyone need to discuss why this is?

  32. April 19, 2008 at 19:25

    @ Katerina I think it would be nice if we could discuss occasionally more frivalous things than the problems of iraq etc. I dont see this as a dumbing down in any way but merely an extension of interesting conversations.

    In response to your question I am also hoping to travel this summer although student finances currently mean that I might have to delay my trip.

    I want to visit America, Mexico, New Zeland, China, India and Russia before finishing in Germany.

    As you can see an expensive trip 😀

    Prehaps another slightly more lighthearted question would be which tourist sites in your country best represent you.

    After travelling in Canada last year I think that Will might agree with me when i say that Quebec is in many respects too french 😀

    @lubna considering the looting of Museums in Bagdad by Iraqies do you think that your own people have plundered your cultural heritiage?

  33. 33 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 19:27

    Hanna”s point about Tibet might be extended a bit:

    Adjacent to what is now called Tibet is the Chinese province of Sichuan.

    It is little reported, but there has been more violence there than in Tibet.

    In Sichuan, the dispute is between the descendents of the Yueh-ch’i Chinese and the decendents of the now dominant Han Chinese.

    I.e., it is Chinese vs. Chinese!

    On the China thread, one individual published references concerning the CIA control of the Dali Lama and the CIA’s involvement in fomenting trouble in Tibet as a matter of American policy.

    The BBC is a news organization. It would be good if they could take such leads and expound on them.

    Similarly, only some seven minutes of an expert from the LSE were presented concerning the history of Tibet. Since there is great ignorance of the history of Tibet, a brief and unbiased history could greatly aid public understanding. surely, this is within the capability and mandate of the BBC!

  34. 34 Will Rhodes
    April 19, 2008 at 19:40

    i say that Quebec is in many respects too french

    That is an understatement! LOL You should hear what many, many Canadians say about the ‘French-Canadians’.

    As a side-point to that, here in New Brunswick there is an argument ready to blow. NB is the only Canadian bi-lingual province and the government are changing the law on early French immersion – their argument is that children have a hard enough time learning their mother tongue let along a new language. There is a bit of opposition to this, but those who oppose it are the parents of children who go to French schools who get an unfair share of the education budget. Many parents, the vast majority, in NB are English speaking and want their children to be taught in English only – complicated or what?

    I should add a blog post of mine – but will do that when not moderating – I wouldn’t want people to think I was hijacking WHYS.

  35. 35 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 19:43


    “Iran is ruling us right now, almost all those who came (with the Americans) to be the leaders of Iraq, are in one sense or another IRANIANS. well i wonder how is that Iran is America’s number one enemy (as someone eleswhere has said)and president Bush brought them to us and let them ,under many different names, to be the ruling power of Iraq. Well it seems that WE (IRAQIS) are more than an enemy to American, to put us at the hand of it’s “number one enemy.”

    That is VERY interesting. But I do not know why it is true. Could you explain?

    Can you get anyone else from Iraq to post here today?

  36. 36 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 19:53

    When I lived in Quebec, the coffee shops had free place mats telling people how to use French to replace English words- and there was a government oranization doing the same thing.

    It did reach the absurd point where the politically correct thing in Quebec was far more “French” than what was current in France!

    This was called “being more Catholic than the Pope”.

    The Acadiens of New Brunswick were qualitatively different and came from a different stock than the Normands of Quebec. I fondly remember the open-handedness of the Universite of Moncton!

    One of the features of a nation-state is said to be the use of a common language. Belgium and Canada have difficulties in this respect.

  37. April 19, 2008 at 20:00

    Hi lovely Zainab. Thanks a million for responding positively to my invitation to you to post a comment on the WHYS blog. May Allah always protect you and all our brothers and sisters in Al Sadr city, Amen ! Hi lovely Kathrina. Let me say that Iraq doesn’t get the chance to be discussed often on WHYS these days, may be because of the “Iraq Fatigue” syndrome, may be because the Western audiance has just got fed up with hearing news from Iraq. So Blank Page NO.2 was a good chance of reminding the WHYSayers around the world of the Iraqi ordeal. As for how to spend summer vacations : Me and my family usually spend the summer holiday at home :-), but most of my close girlfriends do spend the summer holiday with their families in Iraq’s neighbouring countries for e.g. Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  38. 38 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 20:39

    Isn’t it good to talk about the most serious issue facing humanity, the Us vs Them mentality that governs our every waking action?

    Terrorists kill people! Whoever kills people is a terrorist! Stating laws and definitions and opinions of who is, or is not, a terrorist is not helpful. As Will says, it is just dancing around the Mulberry bush, one more time.

    The next phase of the international discussion on terrorism has got to be numbers. Is it more terrible if large numbers are killed? Large numbers are made up of 1+1+1+1. How would you feel being a number?

    We seem to take great comfort when small numbers are reported killed and injured after collateral damage.

    Where does individual human rights stand in terms of numbers?

    To be sticking up for Palestine does not mean that one has taken a position that the “terrorists” are perfect in their actions. It simply means that they must have a voice.

    To be saying that Israel is wrong does not mean that the actions of the “terrorists” are right. it simply means that the Palestinians do not stand a chance against the might of Israel.

    Someone has to speak up when the vulnerable are pushed around by the powerful.

    And the most important thing to any discussion is history. Can you put yourself in the shoes of the Palestinians who were forced off their land? Can you feel what it is like being a number?

  39. April 19, 2008 at 21:26

    Hi again lovely Kathrina. I’d be so interested in knowing your reaction everytime you hear or read news or discussions about Iraq. Do you feel sorry, tired, bored, or just indifferent ?! Do you think that the Western audiance has just got fed up with hearing news from Iraq ?! (The outside world does actually care about the plight of ordinary Iraqi civilians), is this phrase realistic, or just too romantic ?! Do you guys really care about us ?! Those questions aren’t for lovely Kathrina alone. Those questions are for also for lovely Hannah, good Will, and all good WHYSayers around the world. As for your Q. lovely Hannah : Everyone has let Iraq down, and on the top of the list are Iraqis themselves. Saddam Hussein had ruled Iraq with an iron fist for 35 years. During those 35 years he managed to assassinate almost everything beautiful within the Iraqi personality, he managed to slowly disrupt the moral, cultural, and social structure of the Iraqi society. We do need sometime for the wounds to heal. We do need sometime inorder to bring those supermarvellous things back into ourselves again. My heart is optimistic lovely Hannah. After all the country that taught the whole world how to read and write 7000 years ago is surely able to stand on its feet again, even if that will take sometime. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  40. 40 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 21:27


    It is more than being chased off the land your family has always had- it is a matter of being deliberately ground down and humiliated as a matter of state policy.

    You are very right that numbers are not the important criterion. The important thing is whether it is being done as a matter of state policy.

    Individuals and extremist groups are qualitatively very different from government policy. The shame of Israel is documentable, and the hands of Washington can never be washed clean.

    The USA can change its government and its policy. For religious and historical reasons, it is doubtful that Israel ever can.

    And, yes, anyone complaining of human rights anywhere must also consider the plight of the Palestinian people!

  41. 41 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 22:20

    Xie_Ming… thanks for your response.

    For me numbers are important, or not important depending on how one looks at it. One person killed means just as much to me as 1 million. I think purely in terms of the rights a single human. I am not sure that came through in my post. 🙂

    My husband told me that he saw an article on Palestine today in which the people being arrested looked exactly like the holocaust survivors.,, starving. (I didn’t see it myself)

    This I don’t understand. I am unable to understand the mentality of people who profess love as the greatest emotion and then act to strip the right to life away from people with whom they disagree.

    The propaganda machine that keeps us from speaking our minds on these issues is vast and ever consuming, in terms of money and labor. Surely it is not difficult to recognize human suffering. Shouldn’t we speak with one voice when it comes to human suffering?

    Strictly because of the Internet, I am sure, more and more people around me are appalled at the plight of the Palestinians. People who used to be sickened by the holocaust are now more sickened that the Jewish People who suffered so much can cause so much suffering to others.

    Israel needs to acknowledge the pain of the Palestinians, as the world acknowledged the pain of the Jews, and ask the democratically elected leaders, terrorist or not, to work with them for peace. Terrorist is simply another word.

    As long as every issue is seen in terms of who has got the upper hand, peace will never happen.

    And that is sad for us all!!

  42. April 19, 2008 at 22:24

    @ Selena
    Terrorists kill people! Whoever kills people is a terrorist!

    Do you think the soldiers in your military are terrorists?

    With discussion on Quebec.

    Is it possible that some cities in this world are too international? Quebec has been described by some on this blog as being too french and not canadian enough.
    Do the following cities have the same issues?
    – New York
    -Hong kong

    Finally Xie_ming mentioned my example of the tibetan protests earlier. What I meant by them was that the people who have democratically protested around the world believe they are fighting for freedom. They are (with a few small exceptions) using peaceful protest. So far every example we have used to explain terrorist or freedom fighter contains a notion of violence. Also some claim that the protesters are not fighting for a ‘free tibet’ since their idea of freedom is at odds with what the Tibetans would consider freedom.

    Is Nelson Mandela a freedom fighter or a terrorist?
    Is George W Bush a freedom fighter or a terrorist?

  43. 43 Will Rhodes
    April 19, 2008 at 22:36

    Quebec has before asked to be separate from Canada, a totally new sovereign nation. Even now, in Canada Quebec is referred to as the nation of Quebec but is still a part of the federation – yet still not a signed up member. Some have a dislike for this as Quebec gains all the benefits of being in the federation but not formally signed up.

    The separatist movement in Quebec isn’t anywhere near as strong as it was, but it is still there. There are many things that people see as wrong, the only recognised language in Quebec is French – the rest of Canada both languages are treated as the two official languages.Is this right? Personally I don’t think so.

    New York, London are cosmopolitan cities, any who have been there would say so – I have been to both and they are a mixture of many things as well as the native peoples. Beijing I am not so sure about, Hong Kong still has the remnants of the British influence.

  44. 44 steve
    April 19, 2008 at 22:48

    Xie_Ming, I wonder why you israel bashers always single out Israel, and come up with the “It is more than being chased off the land your family has always had” argument, ingorning that Jews originate from the middle east and Israel in particular, and then just so happens that you live in Canada, I am presuming for a moment you aren’t a native Canadian/American, meaning you are living on land that once belong to the natives, and they didn’t willingly give it up. So what gives you the right to lecture to Israelis to do what you obviously aren’t willing to do yourself? Give you land back to the native it was stolen from! At least Jews have claim to the land. YOu don’t in Canada. So stop having a different standard for the Jews, and don’t ask them to do what you aren’t willing to do yourself.

  45. 45 steve
    April 19, 2008 at 22:55

    @ Selena, comparing Palestininians to holocaust victims is low. THe palestinians have themselves just as much to blame as israel, and also their fellow arabs that didn’t give them independence when the arabs tried to destroy Israel in 1948. Rather than give the Palestinians independence, Jordan and Egypt kept the territories until 1967. Israel captured them in 1967, offered them back immediately, but the arab returned from Khartoum saying “no negotiatoins, no recognition, and no peace” with ISrael. Rather than peacefully protesting, the Palestinians resorted to violence, and only when they realize they won’t destroy israel, they resorted to negotiating, and ONLY because they realized they cannot beat israel militarily. With crazies like Hamas, some think they can Destroy ISrael. Let’s not forget, that the “Freedom fighters” killed an olympic team. Hijacked airplanes, dressed up as soldiers and shot up school children, threw a wheelchair bound american off a cruise ship.. They aren’t innocent angels, and to compare them to people rounded up and gassed solely because of their religion is insulting. I didn’t see Jews killing german civilians, blowing up restaurants, killing german sports teams. Jews didn’t celebrate in the streets when mass killings happened of germans. Let’s not forget that JORDAN has killed more Palestinians in a couple of week sin 1970 than Israel has in 40 years. I know, truth hurts. doesn’t it”?

  46. 46 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 23:18


    I don’t believe in war for any reason. But having said that, we do have a military and the soldiers, who fight the wars, are young and have been told they are doing a great thing. They get my unwavering support.

    The soldiers are not terrorists; the military machine is a terrorist machine. In my mind, I can separate the two. The machine is run by the power brokers. Wars are fought to benefit the powerful and for no other reason. The soldiers are mere tools like tanks and guns. According to reports, there are 200,000 homeless veterans in America.

    The language issue in Quebec stems from the fact that Quebec has never forgotten being defeated by the English on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. It is same old same old… people defeated never entirely forget. Opportunists can always trot out old battles for effect.

    Canada is multicultural… a legacy of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I don’t support multiculturalism because I think separation is the root cause of much of the world’s grief.

    People who fight for causes rarely take the time to understand the intricacies of the cause. They leave the research to the leaders who more often than not have a different agenda. For instance, the Tibetan issue is not about freeing Tibet, it is about the balance of power. Protesters are the foot soldiers.

    Nelson Mandela and George Bush are whatever your eye beholds.

  47. 47 selena
    April 19, 2008 at 23:33


    Forget the politics; forget about who is right or wrong and consider:

    Is one starving person any less value than another starving person?

    Is one dead person any less important than another dead person?

    Does it matter how a person gets killed? Dead is dead!

  48. 48 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 00:22

    I agree with Will that arguing details is a waste of time, but the major points must be addressed:

    Again the fallacy of associating the gentile world as against the Jew when only Palestine is at issue. This is part of the indoctrinated ideology (illustrated on one of our independent blogs).

    The Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians began in the final hours of the British mandate. Trucks were exploded in Arab markets, entire villages slaughtered, etc.

    This was done not with insane passion, but with calculated sociopathy against people whom their ideology classifies as animals without souls. The terrorist leaders became Prime Ministers of Israel.

    That policy continues, now as ethnic cleansing rather than as genocide. The Palestinians are victimized because of what they are and where they are. The ideology will not permit them in “Greater Israel” except as “daily humiliated servants”.

    The analogy with the Nazi activity is so clear that the NY Times has long forbidden that it be expressed. There IS a difference:
    the Shoa involved genocide, whereas the Israeli government persecution of the Palestinians mostly involves ethnic cleansing.


    Israeli individual acts of terrorism center on the Gush Emunim and other extremist groups or individuals and those who seek to solve the “demographic problem” by direct means. Such acts are usally done with prior rabbinical approval, but are not officially government-approved.

    Two historical facts to lend perspective:

    (1) the Jewish population of Palestine in 1908 was estimated at five percent (5%).

    (2) Syrians, Palestinians and Diaspora Jews are of a single genetic group, distinguishable from everbody else.

    The cause of the difficulty is a viciously intolerant religious/ethnic ideology.

  49. 49 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 02:02

    @ selena

    Yes, how someone dies does matter. A person asked Dr. Kevorkian to end their suffering. He did and injected them with toxins that caused them to die. He gets convicted of murder, which he technically did. That’s a bit different than strapping a bomb to yourself and walking into a restaurant and blowing up people you have never met before. Dead is dead? Does it matter how a person gets killed? Of course it does. According to that logic, we should torture people, because if they’re gonna die anyways, what does it matter if they suffer? Can’t take it with them, can they??

    If it doesn’t matter how a person gets killed, then why all the complaints of “american made F-16s” or “American made Apache helicopters ” (yet you NEVER hear “russian made AK-47 used to gun down people” or “iranian made plastic explosives used to kill restaurant goers”. I would say it matters how someone gets killed. Actually, I’m frightened for you that you don’t see this. You need to understand the concept of intent. It’s a different thing taking a gun and going on a rampage vs. getting into a car, getting drunk and then running people over accidentally. In the first case, the person intentionally set out to kill people. In the second, the person negligently or recklessly acted, and killed people. They are just as dead as had they been shot, but the drunk driver probably won’t be charged with murder.

    It’s the same for lots of things, how people get killed matters. You need to look at the intent. Israel targets terrorists who hide amongst civilians, Hamas praying civilians get killed soth ey get international sympathy. Hamas deliberately targets israeli civilians. When israel kills palestinian civilians, they are at worst negligent or reckless. WHen Hamas kills israelis, they are targetting, they are intending to kill civilians. See the difference? If you don’t, I would HIGHLY recommend you don’t attend law school and save the money.

  50. 50 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 02:05

    @ Selena

    Did you hear in MOntreal that the language police are suing McKibbins pub for having Guinness art up, complaining it’s not in French? They want them to take down the guinness stuff “guinness is good for you” if it’s not in French. Isn’t that crazy?

  51. 51 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 20, 2008 at 02:14

    Goodness, i haven’t been able to visit the blog much this week, and feel I missed so much! Time to play a little catch up, I guess. I consider this place to be as educational, if not more so, than some of my college classes. Whether that fact speaks to the quality of discussion here, or the lack of quality in some university courses… well that’s up to interpretation. 🙂

    Will, you called for 2 cents- here’s mine (which… because the dollar is seriously biting the dust, happen to be worth a lot less than everyone elses 😦 )

    As mentioned many times before, in very simple reduced terms, a terrorist depends on context.

    While demonizing car-bombers we forget that they too have families. Now that’s not to say these people who are killing other innocent people (also with families) aren’t inherently bad in a way. I just often think- “what does his/her mother think? Does she support her son/daughter in their self-proclaimed martyrdom? Is she ashamed?” It’s similar, but not entirely comparable, to families of any type of murderer or villain. They all have mothers and fathers, and people who knew them before they did these deeds.

    Perhaps to those mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters ARE freedom-fighters, carrying out their beliefs in an extreme way. My dear cousin served in the airforce, and perhaps had a hand in other people dying. To me, he would never be considered a terrorist. To the mother who’s son died in a bombing, he most certainly is to blame.

    Laura in Minneapolis

  52. 52 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 20, 2008 at 02:21

    @ Katharina-

    I love to travel, but rarely have the funds to do it. However, in about a month i’ve hopping across the pond and visiting friends in England (Sheffield and London) and France (Paris, mostly). I can’t tell you how excited I am.

    Additionally, next fall I’ll be studying abroad in Northern Ireland (Belfast). That too gets me through the hard weeks here in Minnesota. I hope to take a tour of Europe in my winter break after my study abroad.

    I really just love to meet new people of different backgrounds and ideals. I hope to be an unofficial ambassador of sorts, showing some parts of the world, not all Americans are gun-toting, ranch-owning crazy people 🙂 I hope people who will have met me will think, “Well, I guess I know one American who isn’t COMPLETELY ridiculous… only a little bit.”

    Laura in Minneapolis

  53. April 20, 2008 at 05:19

    Hi lovely Hannah and Will. 1st of all let me say that after nobody of you guys has tried to answer my questions, now I know for sure that the “Iraq fatigue” syndrome does really exist ! Anyway, in my opinion a terrorist is someone who murders innocent civilians anywhere around the world. Murdering innocent civilians anywhere around the world is a serious crime that can NEVER, EVER be forgiven or justified no matter the excuses or the justifications are. Examples ?! The horrific Shooting of innocent Jewish religious students in West Jerusalem, the brutal murdering of innocent civilians (including women and little children) in Gaza, ect., ect.,. This is all terrorism, since all the victims in those 2 above examples are innocent civilians, no matter the excuses or the justifications are. Everyone has messed up in the Holy Lands, and everyone has a moral responsibility of cleaning up his own mess. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  54. 54 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 20, 2008 at 07:03


    I think that’s a really crucial aspect of it all- innocent civilians. It’s one thing if you sign up for it, another completely when you never asked to put yourself and family in the crossfire.

    Laura in Minneapolis

  55. 55 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 10:58

    @ Zanab:

    If the power is still available in Sadar City, could you explain this:

    “Iran is ruling us right now, almost all those who came (with the Americans) to be the leaders of Iraq, are in one sense or another IRANIANS”.

    Why do you say this? What is the evidence?

  56. 56 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 11:08

    There are three forms of prejudice in the modern world that are considered acceptable and that I’d like to see WHYS programmes tackle in the future: anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism and anti-semitism.

    Almost every episode of WHYS has seen callers and bloggers – at some point – giving vent to at least one of these prejudices, whatever the topic. Thus, the theme of this blank page seems to be terrorism and its definition; the very predictable development has been to brand Israel, the US. George Bush and Western colonialism as terrorist, by people who know very well that to whatever extent charges of terrorism may be justified in the case of Israel and the rest, it is dwarfed by the much more serious terrorism to be found in places like China, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America… in short, everywhere that is not the West .

    These prejudices need to be taken seriously because not only is the mindset a popular one across the world but it often informs the policy and conduct of governments (e.g. Robert Mugabe, the Arab and Muslim worlds re Israel, etc). As far as WHYS is concerned they are also an increasing obstacle to open and honest debate.

  57. 57 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 11:45

    @ Lubna: you asked whether the outside world really cared about Iraq, or whether it was just a romantic delusion to expect such concern and interest from others.

    Four things occurred to me thinking about your question:
    1. Some countries and peoples are never going to aid Iraq because they have no tradition or culture of humanitarian concern (e.g. China);
    2. Other cultures and peoples can be relied on to aid and sympathise with the Iraqis because they do have established traditions of humanitarian concern;
    3. Some countries and peoples won’t help Iraq because they simply aren’t in aposition to do so, and are often not much better placed to help themsleves (the poorest countries of the world); and
    4. Some countries that should be helping Iraq haven’t done so to date and show no prospect of doing so in the future (first and foremost being the countries of the Arab world and Iran, and next the other countries of the Muslim world).

    Re point 1, I don’t think Iraq has a right to anybody’s aid or sympathy. I don’t blame the Chinese and countries like theirs for taking the position that ‘If it doesn’t affect us, then we don’t care about it.’ Re point 2, I expect the aid and sympathy for Iraq to dry up the longer the country remains in a state of chaos and violence, since there are limits even to goodwill and nobody will throw money at anything that looks like an insoluble problem. Point 3 needs no comment. It’s the fourth point that really intrigues me, though.

    Why do Muslim countries do little or nothing to aid their fellow Muslims? The Muslim world has been comatose on Darfur; AWOL on Chechnya; indifferent regarding Somalia; noisy but ineffectual in the case of Palestine (and if all Palestinians refugess had been given asylum in the countries of the Arab world, there wouldn’t be a Palestinian issue today); and fairly useless when it comes to Iraq. Why is this?

    I’ve gradually come round to the view that a Muslim Coalition should (no, must)replace the Western Coalition in Iraq, but I’m pretty certain that it would be near impossible to find enough Muslim countries that would be prepared to make that effort on behalf of Iraqis. And yet Western governments have aided Muslims in Kossovo and Bosnia and, however misguidedly, have tried to do the same in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    What can be done to nurture a culture of humitarian assistance in the Muslim world? I think this needs to happen because Western countries have now learned from experience that they cannot successfully intervene to aid Muslims (unless the Muslims in question are threatened with mass murder or genocide, as was the case in Kossovo and Bosnia). As far as Britain is concerend you should expect our government to start looking for ways to get out of your country. The intervention was never very popular and now a clear majority of British people are opposed to it. The fact that our government’s attempts to help Iraq and Iraqis has directly led to a an escalating campaign of Islamist terrorism right here in Britain is also an important factor that will eventually lead to a British withdrawal.

  58. 58 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 13:53

    Steve: quote: how someone dies does matter. A person asked Dr. Kevorkian to end their suffering. He did and injected them with toxins that caused them to die. He gets convicted of murder, which he technically did. That’s a bit different than strapping a bomb to yourself and walking into a restaurant and blowing up people you have never met before. Dead is dead? Unquote.

    In this instance the difference is one person asked and the other didn’t ask. But, you miss my point, Steve. That point being it doesn’t matter if a suicide bomber kills innocent people or a tank rolls over innocent people. The suicide bomber is no more a terrorist than the political machine that ordered the tank to kill.

    If you have been taught that the Jewish people have a God given right to the land in Israel and the Palestinians are not God’s chosen people, then anything goes, as far as both the Jews and the Palestinians are concerned. I can’t change that way of thinking. But I can ask you try to see events from the other point of view, to think that the Jews are not more special than other humans.

    Remember, not only Jews were brutalized during the holocaust. Gypsies, political prisoners, homosexuals and others were treated the same way the Jews were treated. We don’t hear of them because the larger numbers seem to matter more. We are asked, to believe that the Jews suffered more.

    There is a steady stream of brainwashing about suicide bombers being cowards. Cowards? I may be ostracized for saying this but so be it. Being a suicide bomber is not being a coward. It takes more courage that I would be able to muster… dying for a cause. It certainly takes more courage than ordering an army to attack.

    Since we are talking about intent. What is the intent of the Jews? They say they are protecting the country. What was the intent when they pushed the people off their land? They say the land was theirs. Did anyone think for one split second that the people being dispossessed were human beings worthy of the same love and attention?

    Steve, intent is a tired argument. If you want to talk intent, you can’t begin in the middle. You have to talk about Israeli intent from the beginning of the conflict. Their intent was to claim the land and retain it any way possible. The intent in 1967 was to expand without thought for the rights of others.

    Law is not about justice, Steve. If you are a lawyer, you should know that law is about winning your case. It is about arguing a case against opponents. I can argue a case for the Jews and, in today’s climate, I would win. I could argue the same case for the Palestinians and lose. But that’s not justice. That’s law and the law is an ass!

    Law is simply what flies in the context of the times. If you don’t understand this, think for a moment about how difficult it is to get a wrongful conviction overturned. Once a person has been found guilty, s/he is forever guilty in the eyes of the law!!

    The situation in Montreal is, as I said before, rivalry because of a war in which the French lost. It is stupid but what is not stupid, if we base our decisions on centuries old rivalries and beliefs?

  59. April 20, 2008 at 14:10

    @ Lubna,

    I don’t think there is an iraq fatigue syndrome, its more that there was a lot of discussion on the problems in Iraq on last weeks blog. It was really interesting and a great debate but I thought it might be interesting to discuss other things than
    -the iraq war
    -the protests over the olympic torch.

    This is not to say that they are not interesting topics, and i am really interested to hear about what is happening in Iraq from your perspective, i just realised that WHYS has a much broader scope in terms of the topics it discusses, and that the blank page is a method of discussing alternative topics.

    @ Laura
    If you are coming across the pond you are more than welcome to come to southampton for a day if you want to meet? Unfortunately i have my finals and dissertation due in May so i am not sure when i would be free?

    Does multi-culturalism always lead to seperatism? Can’t people of different cultures all live in the same space in harmony or will they always split?

  60. April 20, 2008 at 14:15

    As a history student who has studied the holocaust I would disagree with you when you say that we are made to believe the jews suffered more.

    Aside from the large numbers of Jewish people killed which has influenced historical debate, until recently source material on other groups who suffered under the holocaust had not become easily availible.

    An easy example is the treatment of homosexuals during the holocaust, until the late 1970s there was not an historical school which focused on gender history. In effect homosexuality was not included in history (niether for that matter were women in any great detail).

    If there are no academics on the subject then obviously there will be more of a focus towards only looking at jewish experiences.

    Yet after visiting Austwich and the imperial war museums holocaust exhibition, and after studying the subject, at no point did i feel a jews verses the rest of the world mentality. Political prisoners, dissedents, homosexuals, gypsies, spies, and in some cases soldiers are not left out the historical record.

  61. 61 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 15:22

    @ Selena: why are you so taken with the idea that Israel seized other people’s territory?

    Let’s suppose you’re right and that that is all there is to explain the origin of the Jewish state (let’s ignore the internationally mandated division of the Palestinian Mandated territory into Jewish and Arab states, a division that was rejected by the neighbouring states). Can we therefore assume that you are equally outraged at the territory seized by the Arabs in the past? Every square inch of North Africa, Syria, Lebanon and, indeed, Palestine itself. Arabs are not indigenous to any of these places. And if you want to include countries that have been seized by non-Arab Muslims then the list is even longer. But for some reason it is only Israel which is the target for criticism for this supposed offence. Why – I’m puzzled.

    You mention Israelis’ claiming that they have a God given right to the land; what about the equivalent Muslim doctrine, that any land that has been ruled by Muslims belongs to Muslims FOREVER. That is why Osama bin Laden repeatedly expresses sorrow about ‘the tragedy of Al Andalus’ – viz Muslims once seized and ruled part of Spain for 700 years; the Spaniards eventually drove them out and recovered their land; and 500 years later some Muslims still dream of once again ruling Spain, simply because Muslims ruled it once before. The Jews are portrayed as religious bigots for wanting to live in a land that was originally theirs, means more to them than it does to anybody else, is the only safe haven they have since there is no other Jewish state in the world, and where Jews have always lived; but I hear nothing about the religious fanaticism of people like bin Laden who want to invade and re-conquer a land that belongs to other people and always has, or of those Muslims who have so often stated – what is in fact Koranic orthosoxy – that Islam must rule the world and every single state must become Muslim, whether the inhabitants want to or not. But only the Jews are religious fanatics whose spiritual inflexibility makes reasoned debate impossible. Indeed.

    And I fail to understand how you could regard suicide bombers (i.e. mass murderers) as courageous. If somebody honestly believes that blowing up innocent people in the name of Islam will lead to a lifetime enjoying endless wine and 72 virgins, whose virginity will be magically restored each time you’ve enjoyed them, then that sounds less like courage than superstitious sensualism. If a man believed that his death meant eternal darkness and nothingness, but still went ahead and killed himself for a cause, then yes, that would require courage. But when you think that to die will mean being rewarded with an eternal life of sex and booze, that counts as cheap sensualism in my book, something that as it would have been contemptible in life doesn’t deserve any kind of respect in death. On the other hand, when a nation of 6 million successfully defies an enemy over 1 billion strong and fights wars alone against cowardly states that alone ever attack as a pack…

    There is no need for a Palestinian state (which has never existed in history, just as there isn’t and has never been a Palestinian nation); there is every need for a Jewish state. The Palestinians already have more than 20 Arab states to call home. Theirs is a futile and unnecessary cause.

  62. April 20, 2008 at 15:22

    Thanks soooo much lovely Hannah for your response. In my opinion the most marvellous thing about WHYS is that everyone’s point of view is appreciated and respected no matter that point of view is. Every topic suggested by any WHYSayer deserves a chance to be debated and discussed no matter that topic is. It’s just that I thought the point you and lovely Katharina were both making is that there are many other topics which are MORE discussion-worthy than Iraq, like how to spend summer vacations, ect., ect. And that’s why I felt a little bit sad. Both topics (Iraq and how to spend summer vacations) deserve an equal chance of being debated and discussed. Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS to you two (lovely Hannah and good Will) for such a supermarvellous page which is not blank at all :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna. PS, Hannah : There’s a very beautiful mixed Arabic-Spanish song named Hannah, know it ?:-)

  63. April 20, 2008 at 15:43


    no i don’t know it but i will have to go find it now …. despite not speaking either spanish or arabic 😀

    I don’t think either Katrina or I were saying that where do you want to go on your holidays was of more importance than discussion on Iraq. I think both of us were just looking for examples of variety in discussions on WHYS so that not everything is focused on conflict, violence and war.

    RE the Quebec question

    France is currently very upset since the Eurovision song they have chosen is sung in English… its not a bad tune, much better than our entry or Irelands puppet.
    Can you still be a nationality if you don’t speak the language?
    In some respects because i lived in germany and grew up there i would occasionally say I am part german. But i hardly speak German any more can I lay claim to that nationality?
    Does language define our identity? If so is there an Arabic identity or an English identity, or a Spanish identity? All three languages are spoken across countriesx

  64. 64 Will Rhodes
    April 20, 2008 at 15:48

    Victor – I understand your point 100% – and this post isn’t a rebuttal but to add to what you have said.

    I understand that many of these young men go into the afterlife believing what you have stated, but I always wanted to know about what gifts are given to the women who blow themselves up in the afterlife? Do they have the same as the men?

    Hannah –

    An easy example is the treatment of homosexuals during the holocaust, until the late 1970s there was not an historical school which focused on gender history. In effect homosexuality was not included in history (niether for that matter were women in any great detail).

    Sexuality wasn’t, until recently, focused on in history – the acts of man (humankind) were. Hopefully not to kill off the discussion but you can look up the acts of certain members of the Nazi party re: sexuality on the web, all historically referenced. You and many others would be surprised.

    This can also be said for women – there are many historical book written solely about the bravery and influence women have had on history – what I do see in many discussions I have with other people are that names such as Elizabeth R, Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Emily Pankhurst are forgotten or used as if they are beige figures in our history so are not distinguished a part from their male historical figures. These are to name but a few. I was taught history as a whole and not to separate the genders – do we need to do that today?

  65. April 20, 2008 at 15:59

    I think we do need to discuss gender in history today as a seperate phenomena in some circumstances since mens experiences of historical events would have differed from womens.

    e.g the battle of waterloo comes from a predominantly male perspective, if we want to look at the perspective of the wifes and families these soldiers left behind we need to look in different historical sources.

    I suppose i didn’t make my earlier point clear enough. The historiography of the holocaust does not focus on a propaganda line of “lets all pity the jews”, it is much broader than that covering all those persecuted by the nazi’s.

    The only reason for seperate historiography on jewish experiences of the holocaust, political prisoners experience of the holocaust etc is due to different source material.

  66. 66 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 16:01


    Your comprehensive appreciation of facts and the law has been very evident.

    You are quite right.

    The Yeshiva teaches the practice of endless rationalization- and truth suffers. Such vacuous spinning is unworthy of reply.

    If sincere and honest folk are interested in facts and references concerning:

    1) the religio/ethnic ideology informing Israeli politics

    2) the psychology and motivations of suicide bombers

    Then we can go into these matters on a factual basis.



    If Zainab is unable to get online, could you explain what she may be talking about when she says that The Iraqui leadership are, “in a sense, Iranians” ?

  67. 67 Ken
    April 20, 2008 at 16:10

    @ Xie_Ming:

    You have written:

    ” ( . . . ) the hands of Washington can never be washed clean.”

    And, ladies and gentlemen, I think that pretty much sums up this person and his/her attitude to debate. It does not make a difference what anyone says. This person will never change his/her mind no matter what arguments you use or what evidence you present.

    Xie_Ming: sorry to have wasted your time with this post. I will let you get back to your collecting of facts that support your pre-existing viewpoints.

    Question: Is there anything – and I mean ANYTHING – that anyone could say that would change your mind about Tibet, China, Bush, America, Israel, Palestine, etc.? If so, it sure doesn’t seem like it from your comments here. I’m sorry if this comment annoys you, but I am offended by the comments you have made about my country here. I was not offended by the substance of your somments; rather, the manner in which you present your case is just . . . depressing. Shrill. Self-satisfied. Righteous. Polemical.

    You should join the front lines of the battles you mention here. As for me, I will try to bring about peace and understanding between people. I want peace. You want to win. There is a difference.


    P.S. You’re accusing the BBC of being biased. Isn’t that beyond irony, given the forum for your comments? See you at the Xinhua forums! 🙂

  68. 68 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 16:11


    Could you please think about the phrase “made to believe the Jews suffered more”? What does this mean to you?

    From my perspective it means, in the mainstream society the focus has always been on the Jews. History has recorded the total tragedy. However, the other groups have never had the means to publish their stories. So, in spite of their stories being in the record, the information has not filtered out to the pubic in any meaningful way.

    There seems to have been a concerted effort to keep the holocaust a Jewish event. Not many think of any groups but the Jews when they hear the word holocaust.

    The Jews needed to do this information blitz to heal and make sure that they were never again put in a position of powerlessness. There is no blame being attached to this effort of the Jews.

  69. 69 Katharina in Ghent
    April 20, 2008 at 16:25

    Hi girls and guys,

    Sorry that it took me almost a day to come back to the blog, but today was one of the few occasions where the nice weather was on a Sunday… we had to make the best of it.

    Dear Lubna:

    I don’t think that I’m totally indifferent to what happens to Iraq, I understand (even if maybe not enough) that you’re in a life-threatening situation every single day, and that alone would be enough to make anyone “a bit nervous” and wanting to talk about. But I wonder if there is nothing else in your life, may it be music, a good book or a movie or even a hobby, that you enjoy and that you would also like to share with us. As far as my (non-life-threatening) experience goes, it is nice to sometimes “get away from it all” and forget about all the terrible things that are going on in this world. Which is why I brought up the question about where people might want to go on vacation. Where would you like to go if the situation in Iraq where much better and you could travel freely? Have you ever been to Mekka or is that maybe not so high in your list of priorities (I guess on top is to make it alive to your university and back, and eventually get your degree, and all your living relatives there to celebrate with you.)

    It may interest you, that compared to my colleagues at work (all of which science nerds) I am extremely well informed about what’s going on in the world, and when I heard about the many different bombings in Iraq last week, my first thought was: “I hope Lubna is fine.” To go back to my colleagues, one of them didn’t even know what the credit crunch is! I don’t even want to mention Darfur, Burma, Nepal or Tibet…

    The reason why I threw up a mondane question like “summer vacation” was just simply to bring in a lighter mood and involve more people into the conversation because between 9am and 5pm there was very little going on on the blog, almost nothing.

    So to come back to my original question: I was in Portugal last year and I enjoyed it extremely much, the people were very nice there and didn’t rip you off all the time. I also would like to spend some time in Italy, I have a thing for their relaxed mentality. (All Italians who disagree are welcome to protest!)

    Okay, I wish you all a nice Sunday afternoon/evening, and I’m sure I’ll read from you all next week!

  70. 70 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 16:35

    @ Selena

    “The intent in 1967 was to expand without thought for the rights of others.

    Law is not about justice, Steve. If you are a lawyer, you should know that law is about winning your case. It is about arguing a case against opponents. I can argue a case for the Jews and, in today’s climate, I would win. I could argue the same case for the Palestinians and lose. But that’s not justice. That’s law and the law is an ass!

    Law is simply what flies in the context of the times. If you don’t understand this, think for a moment about how difficult it is to get a wrongful conviction overturned. Once a person has been found guilty, s/he is forever guilty in the eyes of the law!!”

    Sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    If the intent of 1967 was to expand without the thoughts for the rights of others, why did Israel immediately offer to return everything, and the arabs said the famous three Nos of khartoum??? Where is your criticism for the arabs who occupied gaza and the WB from 1948-1967? Did you have any concern for the rights of others, or are you singling out Israel?

    Law is not about justice, but about winning your case? Sometimes, you have an ethical obligation to your client do try your best, but not at all costs. Lawyers have to witthdraw, and lose income, if a conflict arises or they become aware that the client has committed a crime. Sometimes, lawyers have to inform the authorities of an illegal act, even if it means meaning the client will lose, and probably be prosecuted for something, however that depends on the jurisdiction and the particular ethical rules. What I think you meant to say is that litigation is really more about the likely truth than the absolute truth, given that in civil cases, the burden is only a preponderance. You only have to get the trier of fact to believe your story is 51% more likely to happen than not have happened.

    I’m kind of shocked that you are almost defending suicide bombers Selena. It’s cowardly, not that they are going to die, but that they target people who cannot defend themselves. Why not attack soldiers rather than people in a restaurant? That’s why it’s cowardly. Being not afraid of death doesn’t make you not a coward, but targetting innocent people who cannot defend themselves does make you a coward. And I know your response, Israel targets terrorists that hide amongst civilians. mistakes will happen, that’s the way Hamas chooses to fight.

    If intent is a tired argument, then I truly feel sorry for you. you’d justify anything to get the result you want.

  71. 71 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 16:36


    This could be a great topic. First, people should know that all the courses at MIT are available for free downloading by anybody, anywhere, under their Open Courseware program. A URL for the gender studies set is:


    Usually having less testosterone and physical force, women tend to exert leadership in a more subtle fashion than is common among males.

    Presumably, this should make for less warfare. But, we have Boadecia, Maggie Thatcher and Victoria.

    Among them is the Byzantine Anna Comnena- who effected “extraordinary rendition” by telling the general who was given the mission that she would castrate him if he failed! She wrote an interesting book of memoirs.

    Some mothers become very successful at managing a refractious husband and a houseful of boys. Thinking of parliaments, this would seem to be a very usable talent.

    I have the impression that Angela Merkel is doing a fine job in what used to be an absurdly authoritarian male culture.

    Let’s hear more from people who have thought about the matter!

  72. April 20, 2008 at 16:47

    Can i just remind people that is supposed to be a friendly discussion for debate and shouldn’t degenerate into personal attacks. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and equally people are entitles to say they don’t agree with that view point, but please can be civilised.

    From my perspective it means, in the mainstream society the focus has always been on the Jews.

    I’m sorry hun but i still don’t agree with that view. When i was taught the history of the holocaust (GCSE year which is about age 14-16)i was never taught that it was just the Jews who faced persecution.

    As to Katharina
    I wish the weather was as nice in the UK as it sounds were you are… looking out of the window when you are procrastinating away from an essay and it is raining is hardly inspireing. Plus i also looove portugal especially piri piri chicken 😀

    I agree with Katharina’s earlier post, as a result of WHYS i worry about you whenever i hear news of a bomb explosion in Bagdad.
    Is there the option of music and theater in Iraq. You mentioned Baywatch earlier.. random question but what is your favourite soap? Or your favourite movie?

  73. 73 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 16:48

    Quote: Selena: why are you so taken with the idea that Israel seized other people’s territory? Unquote

    VictorK, is there anything else worth ‘being taken with’? Haven’t all the wars throughout history been about conquering territory? Has the ordinary individual human being ever been taken into consideration?

    Do I really give the impression that Arabs and others who wage the same kinds of wars do not outrage me? If you have garnered that opinion from my words, I am not doing a very good job of stating my opinion. Still, do you think you might be a tad defensive, when it comes to Israel? ☺

    My Jewish/English heritage is one of deep sadness for me. The manner in which we set out to conquer the world and, in the process, ignore individual lives is a matter of shame. What is more shameful is that we have never learned from the past. We continue to do the same things for the same outdated reasons.

    I don’t feel qualified to talk about other groups of people in the world until we get our own house in order. How can I, in all conscience, berate Muslims and others for doing the things my ancestors, Jews/English have done throughout history and continue to do? If that puzzles you, then it is my turn to be puzzled about why you are puzzled.

    It is a tit for tat world. The winners are right and the losers are wrong and, in that paradigm, all is right with the world. The Jews are no more religious bigots than any other group. But the Jews and their allies are more powerful at this time in history. Because of this there is more to be feared from them. Maybe that is about to change because the cycle of history will keep repeating, unless we experience an unlikely miracle.

    Come on! Is the 72 virgins remark worthy of a response? Muslims are not the only ones that promise a reward in heaven for achieving objectives on earth. You well know that is not the issue. ☺

    As well, the issue is also not about a Palestinian state. The issue is about wars and wars and more wars and the reasons for wars. The issue is about the total disregard humans have for other humans. The issue is about how “supposedly” intelligent beings dance to the tune of the powerful. The issue is about how brainwashed we all are with respect to our particular groups.

  74. 74 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 16:59

    Quote from Hannah

    Can i just remind people that is supposed to be a friendly discussion for debate and shouldn’t degenerate into personal attacks. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and equally people are entitles to say they don’t agree with that view point, but please can be civilised. Unquote

    As i seem to be the one with the weird ideas, let me add another weird idea about personal attacks.

    I am always happy with personal attacks. This is because it seems to me that such attacks arise when the attacker feels challenged in their beliefs.

    So, I don’t take anything personally. I am happy that an emotion is being stirred, even if that emotion is merely to give a second thought to the other side.

    Contradiction is a necessary condition for the emergence of truth… Selena

  75. 75 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 17:03

    @Will: I’d also like to know what reward, if any, women suicide bombers can expect. The Koran is silent on the subject – since women were never expected to be warriors/martyrs – and I think Islamic scholars would be shy about arguing that women could expect scores of gigolos and rivers of sherry (far too immodest). There is always the question of how much choice such women have in becoming suicide bombers, and the possibility that they are also victims. I don’t think it’s in the nature of many women to destroy themselves for a cause; men are much more prone to the kind of political insanity that leads to suicide bombings.

    @Hannah: re language and identity – not as straightforward as you’d think. I know that the Germans have traditionally taken the view that blood was what made you a German, and I think that this is still most people’s instinct. Germans who’d been resident in parts of Eastern Europe for centuries, and who didn’t speak a word of German, have been received in the country as true Germans, while Turks who were born in Germany until recently (as I understand) didn’t have the right to full German citizenship. This view at least has the merit of clarity and admits a very important reality: blood is the truest – though not necessarily the only – test of loyalty.

    I believe – though I’m open to correction – that Israel’s Law of Return works along similar lines: one needn’t speak Hebrew, just profess the Jewish religion (but secular Jews are also accepted, so are we talking about faith or ethnicity here?) to have a right to settle in Israel. Only a very few advanced modern societies (with exceptions like Germany) sever the link between language, ethnicity and identity, and make allegiance the touchstone of membership of the national community. Most of the world ranks blood, followed by language, as the main determinants of identity and membership. I don’t think that there need be a single definition of identity, but any definition would have to emphasise what people have in common, whether ethnicity, faith, language, culture or allegiance. It is an unavoidable fact, though, that a country where people have all five in common (like Japan) will have the deepest sense of identity, and the greatest internal cohesion and solidarity. A corollary iof this, equally inescapable, is that multiculturalism can only undermine and destroy national identity.

    It seems that there can be no national identity without a common language; but one can still paticipate in a national identity without speaking the common language, so long as there is a blood connection (a sense of ‘these are my people’). And where there is no blood connection but you speak the language, participate in the culture and share the common allegiance of a group, then in some cases you can be classified as being a part of that nation. It’s worth recalling the legal disabilities that Roman Catholics suffered for centuries in England: they were English by blood and culture, but their primary allegiance was to ‘a foreign power’, i.e. the Pope (that’s why members of the Royal Family cannot marry Catholics and keep their place in the line of succession to the throne).

    There are also issues around mistaken, tacit, assumed, contested, confused and conflicting identities. Northern Sudanese claim to be Arabs and the country is even a member of the Arab League. But you only have to look at such a person to know that he isn’t really an Arab. Real Arabs know this but are too polite to point it out, usually. Many people who call themselves ‘Arabs’ in North Africa and Syria may be so linguistically, but are almost certainly not genetically. I have a very strong suspicion that the Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq is also an ethnic one, and that a large proportion of the Shia are in fact Arabised Persians, while the Sunnis are Arabs proper (the Northern IReland conflict was more ethnic than religious – Celtic natives vs Anglo-Scottish settlers).

    The descendants of the African slaves repatriated from the US to the colony of Liberia have always held themselves apart from the native Africans, a group that they exploited mercilessly when they had the opportunity. Most Spanish speakers in a country like Mexico are Mestizos, of mixed Indian and Spanish ancestry, with the Indian blood predominating. They are Mexican, but only a small minority can properly claim to be Spanish (the country’s white elite). Brazil and Cuba are two other Latin countries that have majorities of colour and a ruling elite that is almost exclusively European. What does it really mean to be a ‘Cuban’ or a ‘Brazilian’ when you are part of the excluded majority?

    America is to all practical purposes an Anglo-Saxon country – but people of Anglo-Saxon stock comriise only around 20% of all Americans. The US has had several cases of espionage by American citizens whose loyalty has been to other countries (Israel and China). Some African-Americans – like Barack Obama’s pastor, or the Nation of Islam – hate and despise the USA: in what meaningful sense can you be a member of a country that you abhor and perhaps even want to see destroyed?

    If you recognise no obligations to that country, does it have any obligations towards you? Many black South Africans used to talk about driving whites into the sea, a threat based on the view that whites didn’t belong in the country. But it is historically the case that whites reached and occupied parts of South Africa before Africans, and that the indigenous Bushmen were in the region before both blacks and whites (and were subjected to extermination by both groups). Does this invalidate a balck nationalist identity,or was that identity merely a political tactic devised in knowing defiance of the facts of history (that there was never a black South African nation and whites have as much claim to be in the land as Africans?)

    Some Muslims from immigrant families refuse all allegiance to Western governments and identify themselves only with other Muslims across the world, to the extent of regarding the countries in which they were born (Britain, France, Holland, etc) as the enemy and waging domestic war on them. There’s a comparable attitude with some Mexican immigrants to the US, who have no sense of allegiance to the USA and want instead to see its southwestern states returned to Mexico from whom they beleive it was stolen.

    An interesting question, ‘What is your identity and where is your allegiance.’

  76. April 20, 2008 at 17:26

    Hi again Lovely Hannah. The name of the Arab singer is Chab Khalid, but unfortunately I don’t know the name of the Spanish singer :-). It’s pretty sad that the pro-Israel WHYSayers are ingnoring completely the dark side of Israel and the horrific crimes committed by the Israeli government and the IDF along the years against innocent Palestinian civilians, as well as the anti-Israel WHYSayers are ignoring completely the dark side of the Arab World and the senseless murdering of many Israeli civilians along the years. I’ve been always a very strong criticiser and condemner of the terrible mistakes and the horrific crimes committed by the Israeli government and the IDF against many and many innocent Palestinian civilians over the years, and I’ll always continue to do so untill Israel returns to the right pathway and has her own moral conscience awakened. But I also condemn strongly the senseless murdering of innocent Israeli civilians, and I fully recognise the terrible mistakes committed by my own Arab people. You must be able to see the wrong everywhere, even within your own self right ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  77. 77 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 17:33

    @ Selena: the 72 virgins remark is certainly worthy of a response because many (all?) suicide bombers believe it and have even made martyr videos talking about how, after murdering innocents, they are looking forward to their reward of a paradise of the senses. We’ve only recently seen several of these here i Britain. It’s an unworthy belief, in my opinion, but I didn’t make it up.

    It’s all very well to feel guilt and sadness about what ‘the Jews’ (do you have any idea how that phrase sounds?) and the English have done in history – but really! The English had an empire, the lands of which they gave back to the rightful owners. Until the establishment of Israel ‘the Jews’ didn’t have a square foot of sovereign territory of their own. Most of the world’s Muslim states are Muslim as a result of having been invaded and conquered by Muslim armies and never returned to their rightful owners. But it’s the English and ‘the Jews’ whose historical misdeeds (even though the former have largely rectified theirs, and the latter’s are virtually non-existent, at least for the past 3000 years) its the English and the Jews who in your opinion are in need of an apology for their misdeeds

    ! You are the one who criticised ‘the Jews’ as grabbing other people’s territory. Very well – that’s your right. All I’m asking is this:do you have a principled objection to land-grabbing, in which case why is the miniscule land-grabbing activity (if we allow your claim) of the Israelis so much more terrible than the enormous land-grabbing adentures of the Arabs? Your response, that you can’t berate Arabs for doing things that the English and Jews have done is saying, in effect, that morality, justice and logic are not absolute but follow racial rules, and nobody whose ancestors have (allegedely) done bad things should criticise others for doing the same. So, I take it, you don’t think that any Arab or Muslim should be criticising Israel or the USA?

    I regard that as a terrible position to take, but it’s the place where logic places you. The only possible hope for solving the Israel-Palestine issue (and many other problems) is dialogue, and even that is not guaranteed to result in a viable solution. But if your approach were to be adopted the whole world would fall into a guilt-induced silence and the planet’s problems would simply be left to fester till they exploded.

    Emotion, sentimentality, guilt, and non-rationality are easy; reasoned discussion is hard: but it is only reason and commonsense that can save us.

  78. 78 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 17:39


    I would challenge your assertion concerning Israeli ideology.

    There are, of course, many shades of opinion and sects: secular, Reform etc,etc.

    The “them vs us” indoctrination is pervasive and indoctrinates the idea that the gentile world is waiting to pounce. Thus, all must stick together against the common enemy.

    From this premise stems the argument that all actions are “self-defense” against the ever-present existential threat and are therefore justified.

    The second indoctrination is not as extensive, but prevalent among the Orthodox and the Israeli leadership: that gentiles are as animals without souls. Therefore, although they may be “killed”, they cannot be “murdered”. We can show shocking examples of this in official Israeli actions.

    Now, I am not aware of these attitudes in non-Abrahamic (Zoroastrian-derived) religions and thus would challenge your assertion that such attitudes are “no different”.

  79. 79 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 17:59


    Concerning personal attacks (ad-hominemisms):

    They may represent an emotional response from the frustration of being unable to respond factually or logically.

    Quite often they constitute a deliberate “poisoning of the wells”. This arises when the argument is lost. Facts cannot be adduced and logic fails. What to do?

    Well, the enemy is “anti-Semitic”, “unqualified”, “biased”, or perhaps “beats his wife”. When you have no facts, attack the person of the opponent.

    Thereby, you seek to poison the source (well) of the facts.

    If your ethical indoctrination is legalistic and you think you can get away with it, then you will try it.

    If young people learn what “poisoning the wells” and “ad-hominem” means, then they will be inoculated against such techniques.

  80. 80 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 18:01

    @ Xie_Ming”The second indoctrination is not as extensive, but prevalent among the Orthodox and the Israeli leadership: that gentiles are as animals without souls. Therefore, although they may be “killed”, they cannot be “murdered”. We can show shocking examples of this in official Israeli actions.”

    Ahh, the old Xie_Ming is back, quoting straight out of the protocols of the elders of Zion I see. I must have been asleep at that particular meeting Xie Ming. Xie ming, we jews are now about to take over WHYS. You’ll begin to notice changes here, as apparently we are letting the situation let get out of hand, so we need to show who’s boss again.

    Xie Ming, hint, don’t blame the Jews for your problems in life. They aren’t at fault, YOU are at fault. Having a scapegoat is so easy, isn’t it?

  81. 81 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 18:07

    @Xie Ming: you wrote of ‘the Jews’ (for whom you have a particular fascination, it seems) that, ‘The “them vs us” indoctrination is pervasive and indoctrinates the idea that the gentile world is waiting to pounce. Thus, all must stick together against the common enemy.’

    Isn’t this kind of national/ethnic solidarity and suspicion of outsiders commonplace? Your own people, the Chinese, are notorious for their insularity, closemindedness, xenophobia, and – as we’ve seen with the Olympic torch – rather hysterical, oversensitive and self-pitying response to external criticism. Africans have much the same suspicious view and collective hostility towards whites; African-Americans have inherited this quality and I’ve lost count of the conspiracy theories they’ve come up with about how whites are plotting to destroy them with AIDS, drugs, bad schools, black-on-black violence, putting them in the most vulnerable frontline positions in military operations, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. Muslims are absurdly paranoid in their permanent fear of ‘a conspiracy against Islam’ and finding cause for offence in the most innocent things (e.g. the packaging of an icecream swirly that supposedly resembled the Holy Name!). Latin Americans have an ancient chip on their shoulder about the gringo to the north, who is really to blame for all their shortcomings (rather than statism and clapped out socialist economics). The Russians live in a state of permanent and growing resentment towards the West which is apparently attempting to encircle and isolate them through the expansion of NATO; and so on.

    But this universal human characteristic of fear and suspicion of the outsider is something that you can only see in ‘the Jews’. Well we’ve certainly learned something from your posts, though not necessarily about ‘the Jews’.

  82. 82 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 18:19


    This tactic is common among those who have long been exposed to a verbalizing culture. The longer you talk, the more dazed your hearer becomes.

    Therefore, a massive fog of words is necessary to mask what is being put forth.

    In this hazy mass of verbiage, the dazed hearer will not be able to integrate any logic, but may retain certain points.

    The spinner will then introduce assertions, suppositions and asides hoping that the impression that they are facts will be the residue.

    Within the haze will be certain propagandistic ideas that the spinner wishes to push upon the gullible.

    The first sign of a shuffle is a long presentation.

    Fortunately, nearly all of our posters are sincere and are not shuffling spinners.

  83. 83 viola anderson
    April 20, 2008 at 18:22

    Selena: Is an intelligent insight any less valuable because it comes to someone who has believed differently in the past and acted on those beliefs to her current shame? No, such an insight is to be scorned only if that insight is not genuine but is only a maneuver to gain some advantage. Those subtleties of motive are quite difficult to detect, granted, but should we not at least extend the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that the insight is valuable regardless of our opinion on whether or not the person is being wishy-washy or hypocritical? Certainly, the Christian faith encompasses the belief that any individual can, indeed, have a spiritual awakening and not be considered hypocritical or have his or her opinions discounted because they were different in the past. I ask this question in response to your “How can I, in all conscience, berate Muslims and others for doing the things my ancestors, Jews/English have done throughout history and continue to do?”

    Taking on guilt for the sins of your ancestors, country, religion, –whatever– can lead only to faulty reasoning and soft attitudes toward those who seek to manipulate you.

    I agree that the issue is war. But that is another whole subject, one which in a perfect world would not be an issue.

  84. 84 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 18:27

    Steve’s Quote: Law is not about justice, but about winning your case? Sometimes, you have an ethical obligation to your client do try your best, but not at all costs. Lawyers have to withdraw, and lose income, if a conflict arises or they become aware that the client has committed a crime. Sometimes, lawyers have to inform the authorities of an illegal act, even if it means meaning the client will lose, and probably be prosecuted for something, however that depends on the jurisdiction and the particular ethical rules. Unquote

    There are many rules written on paper about how humans are supposed to react/act in society. The practical application of those rules is left to the particular individual. More often than not, we follow unwritten rules. And there is also an element of lack of understanding of rules. Of course, if we get it into our heads that our interpretation is the correct one, it is almost impossible to dislodge the notion.


    Steve’s Quote: I’m kind of shocked that you are almost defending suicide bombers Selena. Unquote

    I am equally “almost shocked” that you didn’t understand that I am not defending anything. Is pointing out the flaws of one government defending the flaws of another, by default? Can you consider the fact that all war actions are equally bad?

    Steve’s Quote: If intent is a tired argument, then I truly feel sorry for you. you’d justify anything to get the result you want. Unquote

    Please explain your interpretation of my views on intent. I am curious as to how you arrived at the conclusion that I want a result of any kind. I am equally curious as to what I said that led you to the conclusion that I would justify anything for my own ends. You might be able to help me state my [actual] views a little more clearly.

    Steve, must discussion always be about winning and losing? In my opinion, discussion should be about enlightenment and clarification, not about obtaining a particular result.

  85. 85 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 18:40

    VictorK’s Quote: But if your approach were to be adopted the whole world would fall into a guilt-induced silence and the planet’s problems would simply be left to fester till they exploded.Unquote

    Well, I hope that by taking the logs out of our own eyes, we might see something worthwhile in the others… those we have been told are not worthy of our attention. It is important that we all examine our own countries’ roles in the history of the globe.

    Unlike you, I don’t think we have put anything right. I believe we are just better at covering up our actions.

    You think that my ideas would paralyze us into inaction. I think it would give individuals power to challenge the leaders peacefully.

    However, I do take your point about guilt ridden silence. We see that with regard to the holocaust. We are so guilt ridden about what happened we are loathe to question. If we do question we are very quickly relegated to the role of kook.

  86. 86 viola anderson
    April 20, 2008 at 18:44

    Victor: Thank you for demolishing every single argument given to justify terrorism and terrorists, and expressing those arguments impeccably. It is immensely pleasurable to read your posts.

    I agree that there needs to be a discussion about the demonization of the U.S., Israel, and the “West” in general. I cannot read this blog, hear in the news about how the “West” is presented in the Middle East and other areas of the world without coming to the conclusion that that is exactly what is happening. No intelligent, objective, REALISTIC understanding of the world can emerge until people can put aside their personal prejudices.

    And that is a whole other issue also. Can, in fact, anybody in the whole world put aside personal perspective? And is perspective equivalent to prejudice? Can we figure out what the difference is?

    Perhaps issues are, as I expressed on another issue, not two-sided, four-sided or multi-sided. Perhaps they are round and a truth acceptable to all must be brought into being.

  87. 87 viola anderson
    April 20, 2008 at 18:52

    Lubna: It is not true that people are tired of the issue of Iraq. You, yourself, have said that in the context of what is happening in Iraq that the Palestinian/Israeli issue must be addressed. Isn’t that exactly what a discussion of terrorism vs. freedom fighters and the definition of terrorism and terrorist does, address that issue?

    Peace to you and yours.

  88. 88 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 19:40

    Unfortunately, but predictably, we again see the resort to the ad-hominism of personal attack- and for the usual reason: a lack of facts and logic.

    Another argument has now been put forth (one very common among those with a low ethical component):

    “everybody does it”.

    Such an excuse is more common in urban than in rural environments.

    Following these posts can be instructive.

  89. April 20, 2008 at 19:51

    Hi to both of you my two fair ladies Hannah and Katharina. Thanks a million to both of you ladies. Well, I do have so many very special places that I’d love to visit all one day : Mecca and Al Madina in Saudi Arabia, Najaf and Karbala in Iraq, Mashhad in Iran, London, Rome, Agryll in Scotland, Oregon and Arizona in the US. My favourite movie is A Night At The Museum by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. But I do have so many other favourite movies. I like comic movies in general. As for music, I love Simon Webb, Celine Dion, and the West Life band. As for my hobbies, I love to read alot, and also I’m a radio addict. And to Xie-Ming, I do believe what lovely Zainab meant was that the majority of the political parties forming the current Iraqi government have pretty strong ties with Iran. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  90. 90 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 20:09

    @ Viola: thanks for your very kind words.

    @ Xie Ming: specifics are always helpful in debate – e.g. what exactly is your point, who are you making it in relation to, and what’s your evidence for making it? You shouldn’t be coy about naming names.

    @ Selena: how can Britain’s seizing territory and incorporating it into an empire, and then restoring that territory to the inhabitants not be said to be putting things right?

    I agree that we should all examine our countries’ historical roles (but only so we can learn from history and make informed judgements about the present, not to paralyse ourselves with useless guilt about other people’s actions). But there is only one region of the world where this happens: the West, and especially the Anglophone countries of the West. The Pope has apologised for the sins of the Church; American Presidents have expressed regret for the treatment of the Indians and for slavery; the British Prime Minister has expressed regret for the slave trade and for the Irish famine. Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians have likewise – I think I’m right in saying – also expressed regret for their past misdeeds against native peoples. The Germans are past masters at apology.

    But note where in the world they don’t examine the past or admit to errors or crimes: just about everywhere outside of the West. Have the Chinese communists apologised for the tens of millions who died as a result of their policies? Are the Chinese going to apologise for the rape of Tibet and restore that country to its rightful owners? Have the Japanese apologised for the millions of Chinese they tortured, robbed, raped and massacred? Has the Arab world ever expressed regret for the more than 1000 years of the trans-Saharan slave trade? The African continent has seen millions slaughtered in ethnic pogroms and genocides: when – with the possible exceptions of Burundi and Rwanda – did an African leader ever express regret for those crimes? Indeed, Africans were equal partners in the trans-Atlantic slave trade with Europeans: yet they have the effrontery to blame the West for the entire sorry episode and have never admitted any kind of culpability. Has Turkey apologised to the Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks and other peoples forcibly incorporated into the Ottoman Empire? She certainly hasn’t apologised to the Armenians for their genocide. Will the Copts of Egypt get an apology for having had their country stolen from them and been reduced to second class status for 1400 years? The Mongols were probably the most destructive people ever to have lived: can you point to any apologies that they’ve made to the people of Asia, Europe and the Middle East? The Indians of South America exterminated an indigenous negrito population that was in possession of the land before them – has there been an apology for that? Indian nationalists claim that 100 million Hindus died in the Muslim conquest of their country; the true figure is probably in the tens of millions (not much of an improvement), but either way, have the Arabs, Turks and Persians ever acknowledged that they were at fault for this slaughter? And the examples could be multiplied.

    What is good, unique, and great about the West, is that people are generally open about, critical of, prepared to admit to error in relation to, and even ready to make apologies for historical wrongs. In other parts of the world the opposite is true. The Japanese insist on using history books that whitewash their Manchuria campaign and other activities; the Chinese have re-written the history of Tibet rather than admit the truth about their invasion and occupation of that country (‘it has always been a part of China…’); the Muslim world still complains about the Crusades but has never once admitted that they were a defensive response to centuries of unprovoked Muslim aggression against Christian lands (including the conquest of Christian Syria, Christian Egypt, Christian Spain, and Christian North Africa, and the attempted conquest of Christian France).

    It is strange, and exasperating, to see the West condemned for her good points while the bad points of other countries and cultures are passed over in silence.

  91. 91 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 20:09

    Xie_Ming, I’m not resorting to ad hominem attacks. You make all the baseless accusations about Jews and Israelis and you expect people to say nothing in return except agree with your hateful vitriol? blah blah Jews and Israeli leaders think Gentiles aren’t fully human, thus they can only be killed, not murdered… Protocols of the Elders of zion rubbish. If you don’t want to be called out on it, stop with the rubbish. Okay?

  92. 92 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 20:15

    @ Selena:

    ” The practical application of those rules is left to the particular individual. More often than not, we follow unwritten rules. And there is also an element of lack of understanding of rules. Of course, if we get it into our heads that our interpretation is the correct one, it is almost impossible to dislodge the notion.”

    You’re changing the scenario, you were saying “Law is not about justice, Steve. If you are a lawyer, you should know that law is about winning your case”. I tried to respond and then you changed the situation. In law, there are incredibly strict rules, some that come at a cost to the client, hence, following the rules, which you must, means you will actually harm your client, so you minimize the harm, and comply in the most conservative/liberal (depending on how you view it) way. Some times you have to dismiss yourself from the case and help the client get new counsel. Some times you have to reveal that your client committed perjury. Not only will that mean the client will lose the case, but will also face criminal charges for purgery.. If you don’t follow the rules, YOU as a lawyer will likely be disbarred and possibly up for criminal liability too, hence, lawyers obey the ethical rules because not having income, and being in jail means you default on your student loans. So it’s not all about winning for the client. And what is “winning”?? To me, if I ever faced criminal charges, I would think any record or jailtime is losing. However a lawyer and client could be happy getting off with just a suspended sentence, rather than jail time… The prosecution will be happy because they have a conviction or a plea… sometimes both sides win.. It depends what your expectations are.

  93. 93 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 20:57

    Young people who may be following will have learned about “poisioning the wells”, “ad hominem” (personal attack), and “The Shuffle” and can find examples here.

    They will also have been given a lead to a treasure trove of free educational materials: the MIT Open Courseware (above).

    Some of our feminists will soon be going to bed, so perhaps a discussion of female leadership must be addressed on another day.

    Something Western fans can think about is the:

    “EVERYBODY DOES IT” excuse.

    Before addressing the factual question of whether everybody does, indeed, do it:

    Have you heard this said?

    From whom did you hear it?

    Under what circumstances was it said?

    Is it only used when a norm is being violated?

    What norm was being violated?

    These are factual questions that anybody can answer.

    Is anyone in doubt about the pertinence of the question to present-day activity?

  94. 94 Katharina in Ghent
    April 20, 2008 at 21:09

    Dear Lubna,

    I almost have the feeling that I might see a smile on your face while you write about your favorites. I’ve seen A Night in the museum, too and I found it hilarious. Have you seen “The Royal Tennenbaums?” It’s also with the two actors, plus a couple of other very good ones, and I promise that you will lough your head off! In terms of music I’m very much into jazz, which makes me kind of a loner in this country, people here only listen to very contemporary or 80’s music, which gives me constant flashbacks of when I was 13, covered with pimples and fighting puberty (now I’m 34, the pimples are gone but otherwise… no comment).

    I actually also would like to visit Middle Eastern countries, I’ve been to Egypt once 8 years ago and I found it very fascinating, but the current situation in the region is such that I would just fear for my life. I find it very sad (from a very selfish perspective) that one can’t go and visit places and people because the country is in such a turmoil, and over such an extended period of time, that you might as well put your travel plans into a safe deposit box with a 20 year timer on it and come back then.

    To me it is very aggravating to watch how tribes or nations can fight each over over a shear endless period of time, over nothing! Why was there the conflict in Northern Ireland? Oh yes, because some were Catholic Christians and the others Protestant Christians. I’m a Catholic of sorts, but if anyone can explain to me a serious difference, I welcome his/her advice. (And I do know all the basics.)

    In Canada the fight between the Quebecois and the English is much more peaceful, but, tabernac, it’s still ridiculous. And here in Belgium we have the Flemish (who speak Dutch) and the Wallonians (who speak French) and who are bickering against each other all the time, especially the Flemish (because they are financially supporting the Wallonians, so in the end it’s all about money).

    Anyway, if there were anything that I could do to improve the situation in Iraq, I would do it immediately. I was against this war from the very beginning, and the Americans were doing a horrible job there ever since. What’s worse, while I theoretically hope that the next President there will be a Democrat, both Obama and Clinton have promised to pull out the troops and then the powder keg will completely explode. Lubna, is there any way for you to get out?

  95. 95 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 21:10


    Have we passed Canada, the US and Australia back to the Aborginals? Did we willingly pass back any country? It seems to me we were dragged kicking and screaming to the altar of give back!!! 🙂

    How much influence do we still wield in the countries that we have “passed back”?

    Do you really believe that we have not whitewashed our history? In other words, do you believe that we are more moral than say the Chinese as an example?

  96. 96 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 20, 2008 at 21:23


    thanks for the offer! I’m only going to be in England for 5 days, and my friend- a great planner- has our time pretty booked up, but i’ll definitely let you know if that changes. I would love to see everything I can, and meet a fellow blogger.

    @ Everyone-

    Can we take a moment, however frivolous, to recognize this blog in it’s ability to not only stir debate, but bring people all over the world together in that debate? We may differ in opinions drastically and argue with a vengeance, but I think it’s remarkable that I now feel like I “know” people from many different parts of the world.

    I don’t know about you all, but I think that’s pretty cool.

    Laura in Minneapolis

  97. 97 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 21:25

    For my fellows of English descent, let me remind you of Cecil Rhodes, who said “To be born an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life?”

    When my father was in school, the school day began with the song “Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!” And every day it was: “Let us now praise famous men!” That’s not so long ago.

    Let me ask you a question: Are we past that belief? Or, is it alright to instill that way of thinking in our children?

  98. 98 steve
    April 20, 2008 at 21:59


    Self loathing isn’t “past that belief”. You seem to have a problem with any kind of pride, unless it’s for someone else. Like it’s fine for China to have anti west protests becuse of the torch fiascos, but it’s a crime against humanity for Britons 40 years ago to have sang some song..

    Do you have a problem with Canada too? They dare refer to themselves as the “True North”, meaning everyone should look up to them, as well as being up north. Heaven forbid they mention God in their national anthem too! wow!!!

    I’m not a linguist, but I read something, I wish I could find it, but basically the names of many countries, in the native language tends to mean “center of the universe” like China.. If’ that’s not arrogant, then I don’t know what is.

  99. April 20, 2008 at 22:26

    Well thanks everyone for a lively weekend! It’s been great to moderate this weekend, and catch u all on the blog later in the weekxxxx

  100. 100 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 22:27

    To Laura:

    I am hoping to be in Paris in June. It depends on the renovations to our home being completed. It is taking much longer than expected.

    I would love to meet you if I am there. Keep in touch.

    You are right it is cool to be conversing with friends we would otherwise never have the opportunity of knowing. That has to make the world a better place, in the long run.

  101. 101 Will Rhodes
    April 20, 2008 at 22:30

    For my fellows of English descent, let me remind you of Cecil Rhodes, who said “To be born an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life?”

    And what is wrong with that saying?

    G Brown and the Labour government are wanting citizen classes are they not? I always thought that would be a conservative thing, obviously not.

    Even though I am in Canada – I still fly the Flag of St George, I used to do it in the UK when I lived there (even when the council told me to take it down – I made it quite clear I was willing to fight them in court over it), I cannot see what is wrong with being proud of one’s nation – and a nation that has given so much back to the world as it has taken, great to be English I say.

    By the grace of God I was born an Englishman.

  102. 102 Will Rhodes
    April 20, 2008 at 22:32

    Great working with you, Hannah! 🙂

  103. 103 Xie_Ming
    April 20, 2008 at 22:37


    Sincereity draws people together, propaganda polarizes them.

    For those thinking about the most basic things:
    economics is the fundament of ideology. It is the essential cause of all that follows.

    As a recent example, I would speculate that the “troubles” in Ireland
    stemmed from the lack of good employment opportunities for young men and their inability to achieve a satisfying family life.

    Under this speculation, the religious or Republican issues were but
    ideological paradigmns for sublimating this frustration.

    The foregoing is speculation, not fact.

    How say you?

  104. 104 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 22:43

    Steve, where do you get your ideas? 🙂

    Self-loathing??? I guess if being able to take a good hard look at my ancestry is self loathing, I stand guilty.

    I did say that I am only pointing out the flaws of the powerful. When the power that resides in the west is handed over to another country, that country will be scrutinized too.

    Hypocrisy is rampant and I am no exception. But I can try to see it and try to deal with the awareness.

    I think it was Jesus who said we should remove the log from our own eyes before trying to remove the speck from the eye of another.

    I am proud of the efforts we are making to address inequality. But I am not and never will be proud of indoctrination in whatever form it takes.

  105. 105 selena
    April 20, 2008 at 22:50

    Is the weekend over? Already??

    Thank you Hannah and Will for your attention to the posts.

    Will, is Cecil Rhodes your ancestor? When I wrote the quote I forgot you have his name.

    Thanks to everyone! It has been a wonderful weekend.

  106. 106 Will Rhodes
    April 20, 2008 at 23:09

    Will, is Cecil Rhodes your ancestor? When I wrote the quote I forgot you have his name.

    So I am led to believe. 🙂

    I will still be moderating for a few hours yet – I think Hannah must be off to bed, or the pub! LOL

  107. 107 VictorK
    April 20, 2008 at 23:59

    @ Selena:

    You asked, “Have we passed Canada, the US and Australia back to the Aborginals? Did we willingly pass back any country? It seems to me we were dragged kicking and screaming to the altar of give back!!!” The point you had originally made was how countries should examine their pasts and their roles in history. I agreed and pointed out that it was only really Western countries that ever did this. Returning Canada, the US and Autralia to the original inhabitants is a separate issue. Of course, there’s no reason why that should happen though, since the original inhabitants didn’t create the countries now known as Canada, the USA and Australia: the European settlers and pioneers did by founding institutions, promulgating laws and establishing their customs and values in those places and making them civilised habitations. It’s not agreeable to hear, but it’s true. With the exception of India none of the colonies granted independence had the power to take it by force. But the UK granted all its colonies independence freely and ungrudgingly, because the spirit of the age seemed to point in that direction. But the rule for some seems to be, ‘Never credit the West for anything.’

    You asjked: “How much influence do we still wield in the countries that we have “passed back”?” Earlier you claimed that countries like Australia and the US were ‘dragged kicking and screaming to the Altar of give back,’ i.e. forced to make whatever concessions they did (which were generally apologies and sometimes financial aid/compensation); but here you are suggesting that these countries really still exert significant control over former colonial peoples. Which is it, is the West weak enough to be dragged or strong enough to still exert control? The truth is that no Western country has ever been forced to make any kind of concession; no aboriginal people has ever had the power to extort such a concession. And there is something very condescending in the suggestion that the people of former colonies are so incapable that independence has immediately led to them being subjugated to their colonial masters, only in more covert and sinister ways, with a devilish cleverness that the poor simpleminded natives were simply unable to resist. Does Britain control Zimbabwe? Then why assume it controls any other former colony, or that any Western state wields significanct influence in these countries? The clincher as to why the West doesn’t exert any significant control or influence over these countries is their deplorable economic, social and political condition: if we’d secretly controlled them we’d have done a much better job of it.

    You asked, “Do you really believe that we have not whitewashed our history? In other words, do you believe that we are more moral than say the Chinese as an example?” It’s almost impossible for a free country with a multitiude of autonomous institutions (especially universities and publishing houses) to whitewash its history in the way that totalitarian states like China do, or conformist ones like Japan. Do the equivalent of Noam Chomsky and
    A J P Taylor exist outside the West, presenting their countries’ histories in a severely critical and often very unflattering light? If you read any of the China-Tibet threads you will have noticed how all the Chinese contributors took the same view of matters as the Chinese state, whereas every shade of opinion was expressed by the intellectually free bloggers from the West. In the West we can and do criticise our governments, our country, and ourselves. If we really don’t like our government we kick them out of office. I’ve yet to encounter any Chinese bloggers, especially those writing from China, who dare write anything that might displease their government (when that government grants them permission to access blogs like this). There the government commands and the people, who are essentially its property, obey. And so the answer to your unquestion is ‘Yes’: our system of liberty , limited government, freedom of speech, open inquiry, and untrammelled debate undoubtedly makes us morally superior ro the Chinese and their system, as well as producing independent, free, critical-minded, moral, adult and responsible human beings. That is the glory of Western civilisation, which has achieved these political, cultural and civic fruits to a degree that no other part of the world has.

    Congratulations to Will and Hannah for a well-hosted and enjoyable blank page. And to think, at the start somebody thought you’d not reach 100 posts!

  108. 108 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 01:24

    We have seen “The Shuffle” well exercised.

    Another term for our young people to learn is “polemic”.

    One troubled by any conscience at all would recognize that knowing little or nothing of individual posters should be an impediment to personal attack, and be shaky ground for factual “demonstration”.

    Peace to all of good will, everywhere!

  109. 109 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 02:03

    One immersed in a sociopathic subculture will, of course, be untroubled by conscience.

    Perhaps “legalism” may be considered an example of sociopathy.

    “What is legalism, and how has it influenced the present US administration?” is a worthy topic for future discussion.

    One may also ask what its future is likely to be in American culture.

    To simplify and quote Ogden Nash:

    “There are two routes to happiness on this terrestrial ball

    One is to have a clear conscience

    The other is to have none at all”.

    ****************Goodnight to all!!***********************

  110. 110 Dennis Young, Jr.
    April 21, 2008 at 02:29

    Thanks Hannah and Will…..

  111. 111 Will Rhodes
    April 21, 2008 at 04:04

    Thanks for the opportunity to have run of the house WHYS – I think we all had a reasonably good time.

    Thank you to all those who joined in with the discussions and a return thank you to those who offered both Hannah and I your kind words about our moderation.

    See you all tomorrow when normality will commence with the return of the regular WHYS team.

    If you would like to read my blog at any time you can find it by clicking on my name.

    Good night – a good film to watch with my wife.

  112. 112 Amy
    April 21, 2008 at 04:34

    Wonderful job Hannah and Will. It has been great reading all of the posts over the weekend. While I won’t get into my views on the heavy topics this late in the game, I will issue an open invitation to all to visit Oregon this summer. Whatever you are looking for, we have…..the ocean, mountains for hiking (and summer skiing!) rivers for boating, deserts for the heat and just about everything in between.

    As Laura previously said, this “blank” page is a great way for people from all over the world to share their views, stimulate discussion and make friends whom we may never meet in person. I feel like I now have friends in many countries and I hope you all feel the same. No matter what ethnicity, religion or race you are, we are all humans and share the same planet.

    May peace be with all of you.

    Amy in Beaverton, Oregon

  113. April 21, 2008 at 11:16

    – I think Hannah must be off to bed, or the pub! LOL

    Hey cheeky just because i am a student doesn’t mean that i spend all my evenings in the pub!!

    It was great working with you too.

    @Amy Since i am planning on driving across the US at some point over the next year i might take you up on the offer 😀

  114. 114 Brett
    April 21, 2008 at 14:10

    *sigh* Looks like I missed out on a good one by not being around this weekend 😦

  115. 115 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 14:27

    Brett and Amy:

    It is the habit of a news organization to think that the topical news of the day is all that exists.

    Why not continue posting here, if any of the topics are of interest?

  116. April 21, 2008 at 16:47


    Xie_Ming wanted to know
    Whether topics concerning physical appearance, etc., are pandering to a lowest common denominator and a waste of potential brainpower by WHYS?

    [yes they are [most are car-sin-ogenic ,simply chemical cocktails with un,mentional in-greed-iants]

    Should WHYS have occasionaly frivilous topics?
    Could WHYS pull an april fools day joke without loosing its credibility?

    Can it discuss topics like Kylie’s recent statement about how she doesnt think she will find a man, without letting down its audience.
    [and while were at it no sports either PLEASE?


    (1) Bias and censorship in media.
    Examples taken from the past week.

    (2) Definition of terrorism.
    Problems of definition.

    Disingenuous use of the term.
    TERRORISM IS ANYTHING THAT CAUSES DISTRESS UPON A POPULATION or individual, in such a way as to degenerate them their normal enjoinment of life nessesities or leisures or pleasures or labours so to be affraid to do their usual [lawfull] enjoinments for fear of their bodilly saftey ,person or kin

    Examples. References.





    (3) Policy toward Iran.
    What should it be?
    after a dog bites you kill it
    till then all dogs are to be treated with respect

    that ye do to the least you do to god

    this current policy is driven by israelie fears and govt lobby on usa perpetrated via a zionist adgenda ,activated via neo con’s and special intrest
    war industry lobby [please note first link]

    (4) Policy toward Hamas. What should it be?
    open and honest
    fair and consistant
    under same terms to the invaded as the invader

  117. 117 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 17:10

    If WHYS truly wants to have a World audience and credence therefrom, it must be willing to present controversial issues.

    This, of course means overcoming personal and national prejudices.

    The two main issues in the Muslim world today fostering jiadhism are Israel/Palestine and Iraq.

    It is recognized that US policy is greatly influenced by Israeli involvement in US politics. Two very respected Academics, Mersheimer and Walt, published a study of this influence.

    Their report was met with a torrent of personal abuse. It must be recognized that such a storm of protest will be raised over any unfavorable information concerning Israel.

    This is done to silence and has been largely successful.

    President Carter has called attention to the negative and regressive effect of the Israeli/US policy in Palestine.

    The fundament of the Israeli government policy is their religio/ethnic extremism. This can easily be demonstrated from Israeli sources.

    Without public knowledge of this governmental religio/ethnic extremism, no change in policy toward Israel can be effected.

  118. 118 Matt
    April 21, 2008 at 18:38

    Hi all,

    I’m hannah’s housemate at university and she directed me to this page. I am also a student of history studying the British Mandate of Palestine and Israel as a modern state.

    Having just gone through a lot of your posts regarding Israel’s military (“terrorist”) actions towards palistinians, those who keep banging on about Israel being the offenders and pursuing this ethnic policy ought to read a few more articles.

    I’m not going to search all the posts again to find out who said it, but was the PLO bombing of Israel’s northern boarders not an act of terrorism? I seem to remember Israel had not initiated any attacks to this point against them. Menachem Begin had also just secured peace with Egypt for one!

    If you go back in history to the ancient claims to Israel jews come out on top to be honest. They had been there first and were forced out by the babylonians. there was always the thought of returning, hence the common saying “we’ll see each other in Jerusalem next year”. The Muslim claim rests with Jerusalem, basically because they believe that the al aqsa mosque is the 3rd holiest in Islam. Yet there is no proof that this was even the city were mohammed made his celestial journey, no references exist at all in the quran about it being there either.

    It also pains me to read that you someone say that hamas are not terrorists. It is terrorist action regardless of the official stance and aims. Menachem Begin lead the revolt during the mandate years, there was the deir yessin incident as well as the king david hotel bombing. Yet because he won the nobel peace prize for peace does it mean he wasnt essentially a terrorist. No is the answer, neither can you say that hamas isnt a terrorist organisation.

    some of you really ought, as i said, read a few more books or even take a degree in history before making ridiculous claims.

  119. 119 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 20:11

    Anyone making claims should learn how to read first.

    Popping off without being able to cite the item complained of is worse than sophomorically weak.

    Someone who has lived Jewish history much longer than this young poster has been alive has a brief summary of Jewish history here:


    The last post is an example of unsubstantiated and unreasoned assertion that WHYS should not be burdened with.

  120. 120 viola anderson
    April 21, 2008 at 21:42

    Xie Ming: Actually, you should admit that “the shuffle” is used only by those who are seeking to obscure the issue. The rest of us are only trying to communicate in the best way we can, using all the grammar, punctuation, and writing skills that we have. If you experience a long, reasoned, logical, and clear argument as a shuffle, that’s a shame. Just slapping what you consider facts on the table does not constitute an argument . And endlessly declaring something a fact does not make it one and will only convince the gullible.

  121. 121 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 22:38

    Adults who want a very brief brief view of Jewish history from a distinguised Israeli journalist, former legislator, war hero, terrorist, etc. may get it here:

    The weekly Gush Shalom ad (April 18) deals with the peace mission of ex-President Jimmy Carter and the Gaza Strip escalation

    Uri Avnery’s article reviewes actual Jewish history, the (very different) way it is perceived and presented, and its present-day implications

    The weekly Gush Shalom ad (April 18) deals with the peace mission of ex-President Jimmy Carter and the Gaza Strip escalation



    Uri Avnery’s article reviewes actual Jewish history, the (very different) way it is perceived and presented, and its present-day implications


    Again, facts for the thoughtful.

  122. 122 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 22:48

    Our younger people will also need to learn about the “straw man” technique.

    In this, the poster creates an imaginary situation and description and then praises it or attacks it.

    The sincere person is able to address the real and specific issue.

    Of course, the shuffle must be lengthy for the reasons explained under THE SHUFFLE.

  123. 123 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 22:56

    Seder time:

    For a very brief and comprehensive review of Jewish history by a distinguished Israeli, check Will Rhodes’ blog.

    Here are some related URLs:

    The weekly Gush Shalom ad (April 18) deals with the peace mission of ex-President Jimmy Carter and the Gaza Strip escalation



    Uri Avnery’s article reviewes actual Jewish history, the (very different) way it is perceived and presented, and its present-day implications


    Avnery’s site is a very informative one by a distinguished Israeli journalist, former Knesset member, war hero, Revisionist Zionist terrorist, etc. Anyone sincerely interest should get on their free mailing list.

  124. 124 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    April 21, 2008 at 23:25

    Hi, everyone! 😛

    Dear Will and Hannah…. Excellent job! You’ve done a great job moderating this blank page and keeping the order in the forum. Unfortunately I couldn’t make my contribution this week 😦 , but I could read all your comments and I think it was a passionate discussion! I loved it! I hope to tak to you soon, guys! 🙂

    However, I would encourage some people – and I completely agree with Ros, Mark and other people – not to have that strong way to answer! You can express your point of view, talk about polemic topics and express your disagreement if you want so, but be careful! If you have the chance to read some of the comments in this page, you’ll see they are not as polite and kind as they should be!

    Hugs and greetings from Colombia. 😛

  125. 125 Xie_Ming
    April 22, 2008 at 02:19

    The BBC also has an honest presentation of Palestinian/Israeli history, with links:


  126. April 22, 2008 at 10:40

    Xie-ming i am sure if Matt can substantiate his argument. His age does not mean he lacks knowledge. The reason i asked him to take part in the discussion is that i admit i have little knowledge about the Israel Palestine conflict other than what i hear on the news. Since he is currently specialising in that subject i was sure he would contribute something of value to the discussion.

    Quote:The last post is an example of unsubstantiated and unreasoned assertion that WHYS should not be burdened with.

    Thats incorrect. Matt spent over an hour reading an entire weekends worth of debate so he could engage with the discussion. Yet since it is quite long he chose not to quote directly from the long essay’s of analysis which were shown over the weekend.

    From what i understand he made a reasoned argument based on recent historical research. A different opinion to other posters but not unsubstantiated or unreasoned.

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